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THE SO\'IET IMPACT 
THE WESTERN 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NEW YORK POSTON * CHICAGO DALLAS 
ATLANTA S\X FR\N CISCO 

MACMILLAN AND CO , LIMITED 

7-ON0ON BOMBAV CALCUTTA MADRAS 
MLLBOURNE 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 
OF CANADA, LIMITED 

TORONTO 



THE 

ON THE |V;0 

WESTERN WORLD 



BY 



EDWARD HALLETT CARR 

Professor of iTitemational Politics 
in the University College of Wales 



NEW YORK 
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

1947 



Copyright f 
THE M ACM I LL AN C O IM I> A 3ST Y 



nglits reserved. - no part o th-is boolc 
may be reproduced. in any form \vitliout 
permission ita. writing- from tHe publisher, 
except by a revle^ver TV!IO wishes to Quote brief 
passages in. connection with a revie\v -written. 
for inclusion. in, naag:azine or newspaper 



First 



The six chapters of this small volume have their origin in 
six lectures delivered in Oxford in February and March, 1946, 
for the Estlin Carpenter Trust and printed here without sub- 
stantial change. A considerable part of Chapter I was also in- 
cluded in the Gust Foundation Lecture delivered in Novem- 
ber, 1945, at University College, Nottingham, on "Democracy 
in International Affairs" and published in pamphlet form by 
the College. The author is indebted to the College for cour- 
teous permission to reprint this material in the present volume. 



INTRODUCTION 

THE impact of the Soviet Union on the western world has 
been a decisive historical event, though it may be difficult to 
assess its consequences with precision. Even in the physical 
sciences, where experiments can be repeated and results veri- 
fied, the relation of cause and effect seems today more tenuous 
and more uncertain than it seemed to our forefathers. In his- 
tory the relation is more problematical still: indeed it can very 
well be argued that cause and effect in history are only the 
more or less arbitrary pattern into which the historian weaves 
events in order to render them significant. Unless, however, 
we are content to believe that history has no meaning, we are 
bound to treat it as a coherent sequence in which one set of 
events or ideas leads on to another set of events or ideas and 
helps to influence and determine them; and among the influ- 
ences which have helped to mould the western world in the 
last quarter of a century the Bolshevik Revolution and its 
aftermath occupy an outstanding place. 

A certain vagueness must be allowed for, even in the defini- 
tion of the subject. Sometimes Soviet influence has been trans- 
mitted to western Europe through other countries, notably 
Germany; conversely, the Soviet impact has sometimes been 
the impact of ideas which once had their origin in western 
Europe but, having been forgotten or neglected there, were 
applied, transformed and re-exported to the west by the 
Bolshevik Revolution. Moreover, even if it can be demon- 
strated that certain developments in the Soviet Union point the 

vii 



way to analogous developments a few years later in the west- 
ern world, it will no doubt be open to the critic to say that 
these western events or tendencies were not the effect of 
Soviet example, but that some remoter cause was producing 
similar effects successively in different countries. But even 
where this is true and in some cases it probably is true 
Soviet experience will still be fc significant and suggestive for 
much that is happening or seems likely to happen in the west. 
The chapters which follow, while they can do no more than 
skim the surface of a vast subject, are an attempt to investigate, 
not the merits or demerits of the Soviet achievement, but the 
extent of its significance for western civilization. 



Vlll 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

I. THE POLITICAL IMPACT i 

II. THE ECONOMIC IMPACT ^ 20 

\ 

III. THE SOCIAL IMPACT 42 

IV. THE IMPACT ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 62 
V. THE IDEOLOGICAL IMPACT 84 

VI. SOME HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES 103 



THE SOVIET I2VLPACT 
OTsT THE WESTERN 



THE POLITICAL IMPACT 

THE political impact of the Soviet Union on the western world 
came at a moment of crisis in the fortunes of democracy. Out- 
wardly triumphant in 1918, the high tide of democracy ebbed 
with bewildering rapidity; and the period between the two 
wars was one of disappointment and discouragement for the 
supporters of democracy. Not only were democratic institu- 
tions abandoned in a large number of countries, great and 
small, but even in those countries which maintained them, 
faith in democracy often seemed to flag and to lose its former 
vitality and self-confidence. It became a commonplace to say 
that democracy had failed to solve social and economic prob- 
lems and that political democracy was not enough; and a well- 
known British champion of democracy voiced a common feel- 
ing in the nineteen-thirties when he wrote that "we are uncer- 
tain what the democracy is for which we stand". 1 Today, 
when the open enemies of democracy have once more been 
overthrown in a victorious war, western democracy is con- 
fronted by a new challenge from a country which purports 
to be the pioneer of a new and more progressive form of de- 
mocracy Soviet democracy. 

The actuality of the challenge can be pointed by a curious 

1 R. H. S. Grossman, Plato To-Day, p. 292. Other quotations of a similar 
tenor will be found in E. H. Carr, Conditions of Peace, p. 15. 

I 



comparison which has hitherto been little noticed. It was 
Woodrow Wilson who, in the middle of the first world war, 
threw the word "democracy" into the international arena by 
proclaiming it as an allied war aim, coined the famous phrase, 
"The world must be made safe for democracy", and declared 
that future peace could only be secured by "a partnership of 
democratic nations". His insistence on dealing at the time of 
the armistice only with a constitutionally elected German 
Government had beyond doubt a great deal to do with the 
establishment of the Weimar republic. The victory of Novem- 
ber 1918 came to be commonly regarded as the victory of 
democracy; and the new states which arose all over central 
and eastern Europe hastened to equip themselves with demo- 
cratic constitutions. The sequel provided little incentive be- 
tween the two wars to invoke the slogan of democracy in 
international affairs, though it was used on occasion in the 
middle and later 30'$ to justify "popular front" movements 
significantly enough, tinder Soviet inspiration. Nor did much 
come of an attempt in the early stages of the second world war 
to represent the allies as champions of democracy if only 
because it was important to conciliate certain non-democratic 
countries. The Atlantic Charter, predominantly Wilsonian 
though it was in ideas and phraseology, made no mention of 
democracy. 

It was Marshal Stalin who, consciously or unconsciously 
usurping Woodrow Wilson's role in the previous war, once 
more placed democracy in the forefront of allied war aims. 
In his broadcast of July 3, 1941, he spoke of the Soviet war 
against Hitler being "merged with the struggle of the peoples 
of Europe and America for independence and democratic 
liberty"; and on November 6, 1942, he described the restora- 
tion of "democratic liberties" in Europe as one of the aims of 
the Anglo-Soviet-American coalition. The first mention of 



democracy in an international instrument relating to war aims 
occurred in the Stalin-Sikorski declaration of December 4, 
1941, which proclaimed that "a just and durable peace" can 
be guaranteed only "by a new organization of international 
relations based on an enduring alliance between the democratic 
countries" an echo, almost a quotation, of Wilson's phrase of 
1917. At successive conferences the three Great Powers com- 
mended democracy to the world. At Moscow in November 
1943 they demanded that the Italian Government should be 
"made more democratic". At Teheran a month later they 
looked forward to "a world family of democratic nations". 
At Yalta they announced their intention of "meeting the 
political and economic problems of liberated Europe in ac- 
cordance with democratic principles": they would assist the 
European nations "to solve by democratic means their present 
political and economic problems" and to "create democratic 
institutions of their own choice". More specifically the Polish 
Government was to be "reorganized on a broader democratic 
basis" and "all democratic and anti-nazi parties" were to have 
the right to participate in the elections. The Potsdam Declara- 
tion of August 1945 transferred the principle to Germany: 
German education was to be "so controlled as completely to 
eliminate nazi and militarist doctrines and to make possible the 
successful development of democratic ideas"; the judicial sys- 
tem was to be reorganized "in accordance with the principles 
of democracy"; local self-government was to be restored "on 
democratic principles"; and encouragement was to be given 
throughout Germany to "all democratic political parties". 
These texts, the Soviet inspiration of which was no secret, had 
one general significance. The missionary role which had been 
filled in the first world war by American democracy and 
Woodrow Wilson had passed in the second world war to 
Soviet democracy and Marshal Stalin. In 1919 democratic in- 

3 



stitutions on the model of western democracy were installed 
in many countries: in 1945 the new political institutions which 
arose in eastern Europe not to speak of those \vhich had 
arisen ten or more years earlier in parts of China conformed, 
though rather less slavishly, to the Soviet pattern. 

The challenge thus boldly thrown into the international 
arena was not in itself new. It had been announced by no one 
more clearly than by Lenin himself. The two following 
quotations may be taken as typical: 

"Proletarian democracy is a million times more democratic than 
any bourgeois democracy; the Soviet power is a million times 
more democratic than the most democratic bourgeois republic." 

"The Soviet system is the maximum of democracy for the 
workers and peasants; at the same time it means a break with 
bourgeois democracy and the rise of a new universal-historical 
type of democracy, namely, proletarian democracy or the dic- 
tatorship of the proletariat." 

It is in the same spirit that Stalin in his speech on the new con- 
stitution of 1936 described it as "the only thoroughly demo- 
cratic constitution in the world". It would be a mistake to 
dismiss such pronouncements as mere propaganda or humbug. 
They show in the first place that Soviet leaders recognize de- 
grees of democracy even in bourgeois society (both Marx and 
Lenin were always emphatic that bourgeois democracy repre- 
sented an immense advance on feudalism) and, secondly, that 
they regard Soviet democracy as a new and more advanced 
species of democracy. It is therefore important to understand 
the nature, origins and distinguishing features of Soviet democ- 
racy. 

It will probably be said at the outset that Soviet democracy 
inherits a Russian tradition. In Russia it has been customary 
throughout the ages to exalt the place of the community in 
social and political life and to stress the collective character 

4 



of rights and obligations; the strongly marked individualism 
implanted in the west by Renaissance and Reformation the 
notion of the individual will as the supreme arbiter of human 
destiny and of the individual conscience as the ultimate moral 
censor never penetrated the Russian tradition. On the other 
hand it will be said that the rulers of Russia have never been 
successful in working out a tolerable compromise between 
freedom and authority, freedom in Russia having always 
tended to degenerate into anarchy and authority into des- 
potism, and that this failure is expressed in a general disrespect 
for law on the part of rulers who apply it capriciously and of 
subjects who readily evade it. These generalizations contain a 
particle of the truth. But it would be dangerous to treat Soviet 
democracy as primarily a Russian phenomenon without roots 
in the west or without application to western conditions. In 
fact, it is far less removed from one main stream of western 
democratic tradition than is often supposed. 

Western democratic tradition admit ^ two widely different 
conceptions of democracy deriving respectively from the 
English and French revolutions. In their origin the two revolu- 
tions exhibit a striking parallel Both the English civil war and 
the French revolution were revolts by a nascent bourgeoisie 
against a legitimate monarchy based on an established church. 
The aim of both was to destroy the remnants of feudalism and 
establish the rule of the middle class. Cromwell was the true 
precursor of Robespierre, and both had marked traits which 
would in current terminology be called totalitarian. In both 
countries, revolutionary dictatorship was the instrument used 
to bring bourgeois democracy to birth a striking historical 
precedent for the theories of Marx and Lenin. 

Here, however, differences begin to emerge. Though the 
English civil war ended in the substantial victory of the new 

5 



middle class, the victory was tempered by the survival of the 
monarchy in an attenuated but still powerful form. The issue 
had to be fought out again under James II, and the result was 
a compromise which left undisputed mastery to neither side. 
This was particularly true of the religious compromise be- 
tween Anglicanism and dissent. The whole settlement, reli- 
gious and political, strongly reflected the views of the dis- 
senters who had preached toleration and the doctrine of the 
"inward light". The philosophy of English revolution as de- 
veloped by Locke was based on the rights of the individual 
both against the church and against the state. Locke and his 
followers envisaged the state as a sort of wall or fence within 
which a society of individuals, guided by their own lights, 
conducted the essential processes of social life. The right to 
dissent or in other words, the protection of minorities is 
the essence of English democracy; and the rule of law means 
the enforcement of the rights of the individual against the 
state. Hence the feeling, rarely formulated quite explicitly but 
always latent in American if not in English politics, that demo- 
cratic government means weak government, and that the 
less government there is, the more democracy there will be: 
hence also the pacifist streak that runs through English-speak- 
ing democracy. 

Something of this spirit entered into the tradition of French 
democracy. Voltaire, who was temperamentally an extreme 
individualist, shared many of Locke's views on political liberty 
and on the right to dissent; and Voltaire's influence on French 
democracy remained powerful throughout the ipth century, 
finding its last conspicuous manifestation in the Dreyfus case. 
But Voltaire was the most intolerant of all advocates of tolera- 
tion; and it was characteristic that the enemy of clericalism 
in France was not religious dissent a possibility which had 
been destroyed by the expulsion of the Huguenots but an 

6 



essentially dogmatic atheism. The predominant strain in 
French democracy as it emerged from the revolution was that 
not of Voltaire, but of Rousseau. Rousseau, in accepting the 
social contract, treated it, like Hobbes, as a final surrender by 
the individual of his rights against society. Rousseau, far from 
making the state a ring-fence to protect the working of a 
society of individuals, identified society with the state and 
posited an all-powerful "general will" from which it was 
treason to dissent. The spiritual father of the French revolu- 
tion, he was also the father of modern totalitarian democracy* 
The history of the revolution in France promoted the trend 
towards totalitarian democracy. The revolution began with 
the complete, sudden and irrevocable overthrow of tie legiti- 
mate monarchy. As in England there was a royal execution; 
but in France the royal restoration of 1814 was no part of a 
national compromise, but a hollow sham forced on the coun- 
try by foreign arms after the real issue of the revolution had 
been decided. Hence the French revolution, unlike the Eng- 
lish, did not issue in a balance or compromise: it was a victory 
not for political toleration, or the rights of the individual as 
against the state, but for a particular view of the authority of 
the state. 

All that the revolution did [a recent historian of French political 
thought has remarked] was to transfer the existing system from 
one nominal ruler to another, to substitute "popular" for "royal" 
sovereignty, to give to the "people" the powers hitherto enjoyed 
by the crown but without any challenging or questioning of 
those powers in themselves. 1 

The association of revolutionary democracy with absolute 
power was the lesson of Napoleon's astonishing career. In 
Guizot's trenchant words: 

1 R. Soltau: French 'Political Thought in the Nineteenth Century, p. xx. 

7 



Absolute power cannot belong in France except to the Revolu- 
tion and its heirs, for they alone, for many years to come, can 
re-assure the masses about their interests while refusing them 
guarantees of liberty. 1 

It was in keeping with this tradition that France produced in 
the person of Napoleon III the first modern "democratic" 
dictator. 

What I have called the English conception of democracy 
had little influence in Europe in the half century after the 
French revolution; for few people would at this time have 
called Great Britain a democracy. 2 Throughout this period 
the word democracy was used throughout Europe by friend 
or foe alike in the sense consecrated by the revolution, and 
retained its revolutionary connotation unchallenged till after 
1848. "Gegen Demokraten helfen nur Soldaten" was an 
aphorism attributed to Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia. Marx 
and Engels in the 'forties called themselves "democratic com- 
munists", and in the Communist Manifesto the phrases "to 
establish democracy" and "to raise the proletariat to the posi- 
tion of the ruling class" are equivalents. Before 1848 nobody 
had doubted that political democracy (one man, one vote) 
carried with it social democracy (equality or the levelling of 
classes), and that the progressive middle class which wanted 
universal suffrage was therefore fighting the cause of the 
masses. "Everyone without exception has the vote", declared 
the proclamation of the French Provisional Government of 
1 848. "Since this law has been announced, there are no longer 
any proletarians in France." 3 But this jubilation was prema- 

1 Guizot: Memoires pour servir a Vhistoire de mon temps, I, p. 34. 

2 Tocqueville, writing in the 1 830*8, called Great Britain with his cus- 
tomary insight "an aristocratic republic" (De la Democratic en Amerique 
(Paris 1835), II, p. 186). 

3 Lamarrine, Histoire de la Revolution de 1848, p. 396. 

8 



ture. The middle class, having attained its primary objective 
and being frightened of the ulterior revolutionary aspirations 
of the masses, ceased to be revolutionary. In France it was 
quiescent, if not actively approving, when Cavaignac crushed 
the workers: and similar events happened all over Europe. 

From 1848 onwards therefore political democracy ("liberal 
democracy") and social democracy ("socialism" or "com- 
munism") were to be found throughout Europe on opposite 
sides of the barricades. It was not that after 1848 "socialism" 
or "communism" became revolutionary (they always had 
been), but that "democracy" ceased to be revolutionary and 
tended more and more to be associated with conservatism. The 
name "social democrats" was adopted by the German work- 
ers 7 party in 1864, but accepted only under protest by Marx 
and Engels. The rift between "democracy" and "communism" 
alias "social democracy" was well under way. Napoleon III 
and Bismarck both showed that universal suffrage could be a 
powerful weapon against social democracy. In England, where 
there had been no 1848, the same developments followed later. 
The word democracy long remained in bad odour with the 
English ruling classes. Lord Salisbury could describe it con- 
temptuously as a system under which "the rich would pay all 
the taxes and the poor make all the laws". 1 But by the turn of 
the century these inhibitions had been overcome; and since 
that rime democracy has been continually invoked by con- 
servatives, in England as elsewhere, as a bulwark of defence 
against the revolutionary onslaughts of socialism and com- 
munism. 

Put therefore in its historical setting, the position of Soviet 
democracy is easy to understand. Always remote from the 
English revolutionary tradition, it belongs to the French rev- 
olutionary tradition of democracy as it existed in western 

1 Gwendolen Cecil, Life of Robert Marquis of Salisbury, I, p. 149. 

9 



Europe down to 1848. After 1848, according to the Soviet 
view, the bourgeoisie falsified and betrayed the democratic 
tradition by turning against the proletariat, and the victory of 
bourgeois democracy has not yet been completed and carried 
to its logical conclusion in western Europe by the victory of 
proletarian democracy or socialism. This conclusion has been 
reached only in Russia where the bourgeois revolution of 
March 1917 was quickly completed by the proletarian revolu- 
tion of November 1917. The challenge which Soviet democ- 
racy presents to the western world is a challenge to complete 
the unfinished revolution. 

The challenge may be considered under four heads; and 
under each of them some impact has already been made by the 
Soviet conception of democracy on the democracies of the 
west. The charges against western democracy are (i) that it 
remains purely formal and institutional and that the class con- 
tent of the state is ignored, (2) that it remains purely political 
and does not extend to the social and economic plane, (3) 
that it lacks positive belief in itself, and is therefore danger- 
ously tolerant of opposition, and (4) that it makes no provi- 
sion for the participation of the masses in administration. 

( i ) Confusion of thought is often caused by the habit com- 
mon among politicians and writers of the English-speaking 
world of defining democracy in formal and conventional 
terms as "self-government" or "government by consent". 
What these terms define is not democracy, but anarchy. Gov- 
ernment of some kind is necessary in the common interest 
precisely because men will not govern themselves. "Govern- 
ment by consent" is a contradiction in terms; for the purpose 
of government is to compel people to do what they would not 
do of their own volition. In short, government is a process by 
which some people exercise compulsion on others. This is as 
true of democracy as of other forms of government; the 

10 



criteria are by whom, by what means, and for what, the com- 
pulsion is exercised. What determines the character of any 
government is, therefore, not its institutional framework, but 
its class content. According to Marx there is no such thing as 
a state, or therefore as a government, which has no class basis. 
The state comes into existence as the result of class antago- 
nisms and is the instrument through which one class establishes 
its predominance. The first criterion of democracy is that it 
should establish the predominance of the largest class the 
class which, by coming into power, automatically sweeps 
away all other classes and thus ushers in the classless society 
the mass of the workers. 

Democracy in capitalist countries [said Stalin in his speech in- 
troducing the 1936 constitution] where there are antagonistic 
classes is in the last analysis democracy for the strong, democracy 
for the propertied classes. In the U.S.S.R. on the contrary, democ- 
racy is democracy for the working people, i.e. democracy for all. 

Through what constitutional forms democracy achieves this 
result thus becomes a subsidiary question. The overthrow of 
feudalism and the victory of bourgeois democracy in England 
and in France could never have been achieved except by way 
of the Cromwellian and Jacobin dictatorships. Marx believed, 
and Soviet practice has been inspired by this belief, that the 
only effective instrument for the overthrow of the bourgeois 
regime and the achievement of proletarian democracy would 
be the dictatorship of the proletariat. There is therefore no 
essential incompatibility between democracy and dictatorship. 
No doubt when the last vestiges of bourgeois society have 
been eliminated, the dictatorship of the proletariat will no 
longer have any purpose, and will also disappear; in the mean- 
while, it is the sole means through which "democratic liberties" 
can be secured to the masses of the workers. The challenge 

ii 



to the west on this point may be quite simply expressed. In the 
western conception of democracy institutions are all-impor- 
tant, and the antithesis of democracy is dictatorship; in the 
Soviet conception class content is the first consideration, and 
the antithesis of democracy is aristocracy or plutocracy, i.e. 
the predominance of a select class. The cult of the "common 
man" now fashionable in English-speaking countries is per- 
haps a first result of the impact of Soviet democracy. 

(2) The second point is a corollary of the first. In the 
Soviet view, western democracy, because it is primarily formal 
and institutional, remains exclusively political, and lacks social 
and economic content. Western theory admits no necessary 
connexion between democracy and socialism; after 1848 it 
was generally assumed by western democrats that the two are 
not even compatible. In Soviet theory, socialism is necessary to 
complete democracy and to make it real. The Soviet argument 
on -this point is so familiar that it scarcely needs recapitula- 
tion. The latter half of the i pth century showed clearly that 
political democracy was compatible with the continued pre- 
dominance of a ruling class, and that the formal equality 
established by democratic institutions, i.e. one man, one vote, 
did not pave the way, as optimistic democrats had once ex- 
pected, to economic and social equality. Democracy does not 
break the economic stranglehold of the employer over the 
worker; and freedom of the press and of public assembly does 
not in fact mean that equal opportunity is available for the 
expression of all opinions. As Trotsky cogently put it: 

Democracy . . . leaves the blind play of forces in the social 
relations of men untouched. It was against this deeper sphere of 
the unconscious that the October revolution was the first to raise 
its head. 1 

1 Trotsky: The History of the Russian Revolution (English trans., one 
vol. edition), p. 1191. 

12 



The Soviet challenge has spread and quickened the realization 
of these shortcomings and, in so doing, has largely contributed 
to the recent weakening of popular faith in the democratic 
institutions of the western world. 

(3) The third point is the most difficult of all; for it repre- 
sents an attack on the citadel of English-speaking democracy 
the doctrine of toleration. It brings to a head the whole 
current controversy between the publicists of the English- 
speaking world and those of the Soviet Union. British and 
American writers assert that democracy does not exist in the 
Soviet Union because dissentient opinions are not tolerated. 
Soviet writers assert with equal confidence that Britain and the 
United States are not truly democratic because they tolerate 
opinions hostile to democracy. When British or Americans ac- 
cuse the Russians of undemocratic behaviour in Bulgaria or 
Roumania, the Russians reply that all they have done is to 
eliminate the collaborators and thus carry out the Yalta deci- 
sion to "help the liberated peoples to destroy the last vestiges 
of nazism and fascism". On the other hand, Mr. Churchill's 
policy of leaving former collaborators in power in Greece and 
suppressing those who formed the core of resistance to nazism, 
or the toleration accorded in Belgium to supporters of King 
Leopold, were regarded by the Russians as undemocratic. 
While the British and American authorities invoke democracy 
to justify their toleration of former collaborators and quasi- 
fascist groups, the Russians regard such toleration as the an- 
tithesis of democracy. A single illustration puts the issue in a 
nutshell. While the abolition of Regulation i8B was widely 
regarded in Britain as a triumph for democracy, it was re- 
garded in Russia as a setback for democracy and a triumph 
for the fascists. 

As has already been pointed out, English-speaking democ- 
racy has its roots in the English civil war of the iyth century 

13 



and has never lost its close affinity with protestantism and 
specifically with dissent. The religious toleration preached by 
protestants and dissenters was, however, a toleration of dif- 
ferent sects all professing loyalty in different terms to the 
same fundamental Christian belief. Not until religion had 
ceased to be a factor of political importance was toleration 
extended to atheists or even to Catholics. The question posed 
by the recent impact of Soviet democracy on the west is 
whether that toleration of dissentient opinions which is de- 
clared to be the essence of democracy means toleration of all 
dissentient opinions, even of those hostile to democracy, or 
whether it means toleration of dissentient opinions on specific 
issues among those who accept the fundamentals of democ- 
racy. This is not an academic question, and it has not yet been 
answered by the spokesmen of western democracy. Neither of 
the alternative answers is free from difficulty. 

The first answer, that democracy tolerates all dissentient 
opinions, even those hostile to itself, requires careful scrutiny. 
In fact, English-speaking democracy has almost always had 
on its fringe some opinion which it condemned as un-English 
or un- American at different periods atheism, socialism, com- 
munism and fascism have all been cast for this role and re- 
fused to tolerate it precisely on the ground that it threatened 
the foundations of democratic society. If direct political per- 
secution is avoided, this is because the social and economic 
reprisals which society can apply are sufficiently powerful to 
prevent the offenders from becoming dangerously numerous 
or dangerously influential. Official spokesmen have frequently 
defended the toleration shown to British fascists on the ground 
that they are so weak and discredited that no precautionary 
iction is required against them. The implication is that even 
British democracy tolerates dissentient opinions only so long 
is they do not become dangerous to it. 



The thesis that democracy tolerates even dissentients hostile 
to itself is also open to an objection of principle. It deprives 
democracy of any absolute moral foundation. On this thesis 
the function of democracy is, so to speak, to hold the ring for 
all opinions, to give equal opportunity to good and evil alike, 
and finally to award the palm to that opinion which secures a 
majority of votes. It is on this ground that democracy has 
been attacked by the Orthodox philosopher Berdyaev, once a 
Marxist: 

Good and evil are alike indifferent for democracy. It is tolerant 
because of this indifference, because it has lost faith in truth. . . . 
It is a complete relativism, the negation of all absolutes. 1 

The democrat who holds that democracy requires equal tolera- 
tion for opinions hostile to democracy, cannot even believe in 
democracy as an absolute value, being bound to accept its 
abrogation as valid if the majority will it. It need hardly be 
said that the whole of this thesis is anathema to Soviet democ- 
racy, which regards the toleration shown by English-speaking 
democrats to fascists as a symptom of weakness and of falter- 
ing faith in democracy. 

The second answer, i.e. that the toleration proper to democ- 
racy is restricted to toleration of dissentient opinion which 
does not strike at the roots of democracy itself, is more sensi- 
ble. It leaves no division of principle on this point between 
western and Soviet democracy; indeed the British and Ameri- 
can Governments as well as the Soviet Government com- 
mitted themselves unequivocally to this doctrine at the 
Moscow, Yalta and Potsdam conferences, when they resolved 
that "fascism and all its emanations should be utterly de- 
stroyed"; that nazism should be "extirpated"; and that the 

*N. Berdyaev, The End of Our Time, p. 174-5. 

15 



liberated peoples of Europe should be helped to "destroy the 
last vestiges of nazism and fascism". But the doctrine of the 
extirpation of fascism leads to certain conclusions which are at 
present reluctantly accepted in western democracies. Whether 
the suppression of a dissentient opinion is permissible on the 
ground of the danger it presents to democratic institutions de- 
pends partly on the strength of the dissent and partly on the 
strength of the society against which it is directed. In other 
words a strong and closely-knit society like Great Britain, held 
together by rooted habits of common thought and action, can 
afford to tolerate far more diversity of opinion on matters of 
vital political import than a weak and fissiparous society such 
as we find, for example, over a large part of eastern Europe 
or in India, where no principle of absolute political toleration 
has ever been recognized by the British rulers. Toleration of 
dissent on a scale perfectly safe and practicable in the English- 
speaking democracies might easily prove fatal altogether to 
democracy in Roumania or Yugoslavia. 

This conclusion corresponds to common observation and 
to the experience of the period between the wars, and sug- 
gests the danger of seeking to transfer to democracies else- 
where the peculiar and characteristic practice of the English- 
speaking democracies. Even western democracy may be 
compelled to review its traditional attitude. The belief that 
British and French policy in the years before 1939 was weak- 
ened by excessive toleration extended to anti-democratic 
groups is not confined to the Soviet Union; nor are the more 
recent doubts about the setting at liberty of avowed enemies 
of democracy such as Sir Oswald Mosley and his friends. On 
the other hand admission of the right of democracy to ex- 
tirpate or restrain hostile opinion, inevitable though it may be, 
is open to obvious and easy abuse, and English-speaking de- 
id 



mocracy, in its illogical way, may well cling to the doctrine 
of an absolute right to toleration, if only as a salutary cor- 
rective against the opposite extreme. But this kind of com- 
promise is hardly suitable for export. Outside the English- 
speaking world the doctrine of toleration for fascists in the 
name of democracy will become more and more difficult to 
commend to popular support; and the impact of Soviet opin- 
ion will be increasingly felt against it. 

(4) The fourth charge on which the challenge of Soviet 
democracy is based, i.e. that western democracy makes no 
provision for the participation of the masses in administration, 
is a reaction against the exclusive pre-occupation of western 
democracy with voting at elections. In the Soviet view the 
struggle between parties in bourgeois democracy was largely 
unreal shadow-boxing between groups which, whatever 
their superficial differences, were equally determined to main- 
tain the private ownership of the means of production. But, 
apart from this ultimate unreality of the participation of the 
workers in the electoral struggle, the administrative machine 
of the bourgeois state remained in the firm control of the 
bourgeoisie which sedulously fostered the view that the com- 
plicated nature of the machine made it necessary to entrust 
all the key posts to men of highly specialized education such 
as is normally available in capitalist society only to the well- 
to-do. This picture has no doubt been somewhat modified, 
so far as Great Britain is concerned, in the past 30 years; but 
it was still mainly true when Lenin evolved the theories 
on which the Soviet view of democratic administration is 
based. 

Under Socialism [wrote Lenin in 1917] much of primitive 
democracy will inevitably be revived. For the first time in the 
history of civilized nations the mass of the people will rise to 



direct participation, not only in voting and elections, but in the 
everyday administration of the affairs of the nation. 1 

Lenin's numerous attacks on bureaucracy were inspired by 
this intense desire to draw the masses into the direct manage- 
ment of affairs. No doubt some of his estimates of the pos- 
sibility of substituting workers in their spare time for profes- 
sional bureaucrats were naively exaggerated. But the prin- 
ciple of encouraging the direct participation of the Soviet 
citizen survived and, allowing for some reaction from the 
first outbursts of enthusiasm, found expression in the obliga- 
tion of unpaid public service for party members and trade 
unionists and in the work of the local Soviets. 

Something of the same "revival of primitive democracy" 
was witnessed in Great Britain during the war in the form of 
Home Guard activities and of locally organized A.R.P. and 
civil defence services. It is worth noting that these manifesta- 
tions of local and informal democracy occurred under the 
aegis of a highly concentrated, and necessarily in time of 
war somewhat autocratic, central authority; and it may be 
suggested that a socialist state is better equipped to provide 
opportunity for, and to stimulate, such "democratic" activities 
than a capitalist state in time of peace. If Soviet authorities 
take the view that such direct participation in the running of 
affairs is at least as essential an attribute of democracy as vot- 
ing in occasional elections, it is by no means certain that they 
are wrong. The broad lines of Soviet policy may be dictated 
from the centre. But the Soviet Union has never ignored the 
human element, or underestimated the extent to which the 
execution of any policy depends on the enthusiasm and initia- 
tive of the individual citizen; and it has shown itself as well 
aware as the western world of what Sir Ernest Barker has 

1 Lenin, State and Revolution, ch. vi. 

18 



described as a main function of democracy to "enlist the 
effective thought of the whole community in the operation of 
discussion". 1 Here at any rate is a challenge of Soviet democ- 
racy to western political institutions about which western 
democrats will be well advised to ponder. 

1 Ernest Barker, Reflections on Government, p. 444. 



II 

THE ECONOMIC IMPACT 

THE economic impact of the Soviet Union on the rest of the 
world may be summed up in the single word "planning". Some 
years ago an acute writer observed that from the point of 
view of "the part played by developments in the Soviet Union 
in influencing the course of events in other countries . . . 
the activities of the Communist International . . . are much 
less important than those of the State Planning Commission". 1 
It would be tedious to record the numerous imitations all over 
the world, some substantial, some superficial, of the Soviet 
five-year plans, to recall that Nazi Germany at one time an- 
nounced a four-year plan, Turkey a five-year plan and Mexico 
a six-year plan, or that President Roosevelt's enemies were 
never tired of claiming that the New Deal had been framed on 
a Soviet model. It is more important to trace the origins of the 
concept of planning, to consider how it was developed by 
the Soviet Union, and to show how this development has 
helped to shape economic thought and economic practice 
even in countries which have never committed themselves to 
a formal plan. Certainly, if "we are all planners now", this is 
largely the result, conscious or unconscious, of the impact of 
Soviet practice and Soviet achievement. 

1 John Stanfield, Plan We Musty p. 74. 

2O 



The pedigree of planning is extraordinarily complex. If 
Marx was, as is sometimes supposed, the father of planning, 
his paternity was of an indirect and mainly negative kind. 
While he wrote much of the anarchy of production under 
capitalism, he offered no programme for the more disciplined 
production which socialism might be expected to bring with 
it. He foresaw that trade in the capitalist sense would disap- 
pear. But he threw out no guidance for a socialist system of 
distribution other than the naive proposition (designed per- 
haps to be taken symbolically rather than literally) that the 
workers would "receive paper cheques by means of which 
they withdraw from the social supply of means of consump- 
tion a share corresponding to their labour-time". 1 Three rea- 
sons may be suggested for Marx's failure to draw anything like 
the blue-print of a planned socialist order. 

In the first place, Marx was by temperament and convic- 
tion the sworn enemy of utopianism in any form. In his early 
years he had engaged in vigorous polemics against the Utopian 
socialists who entertained themselves with unreal visions of 
the future socialist society. In one of his last published 
pamphlets The Civil War in France he explained that the 
workers have "no ready-made Utopias" and "no ideals to 
realize", and know that "they will have to pass through long 
struggles, through a series of historic processes, transforming 
circumstances and men". This "scientific", quasi-determinist 
belief in the transformation of society by immanent "historic 
processes" seems implicitly, though perhaps unconsciously, 
inimical to the active pursuit of planning. 

Secondly, Marx applied the tools of economic analysis to 
the capitalist system, but apparently did not regard these 
tools as relevant to a prospective socialist order. In an early 
work he described Proudhon as "tossing about constantly 

1 Marx, Capital, vol. II (English trans. 1907), p. 412. 

21 



between capital and labour, between political economy and 
communism". 1 "Political economy" was in his mind some- 
thing that belonged essentially to capitalism and would be 
superseded with capitalism. The familiar economic categories 
of value, price and profit would cease to apply in the collec- 
tive society; even the labour theory of value would change 
its m^m'ng. 2 But Marx had no new categories to substitute 
for the old ones, and had no tools of economic analysis to use 
once capitalism was left behind. Discussions about the func- 
tions of price and profit in a planned economy lay far ahead 
in the future. 

Thirdly and most important, Marx was inhibited from any 
serious development of planning by inability to establish by 
whom planning in a socialist order would be done. Vigor- 
ously as he trounced the upholders of laissez-faire, he was 
himself deeply rooted in many of its underlying assumptions; 
and, though he based his system on the primacy of economics 
over politics, he still regarded them as distinct spheres. In any 
case the state, as the political organ, was to wither away at 
no distant date, and could not be the arbiter of planning in 
the coming order. Hence Marx was led to suppose that, while 
under socialism production would come "under the conscious 
and pre-arranged control of society", 3 society would itself 
be "organized as a conscious and systematic association", in 
which the producers themselves "would regulate the exchange 
of products, and place it under their own common control 
instead of allowing it to rule over them as a blind force"/ 
While some kind of planning and direction of economic life 
was clearly an integral part of socialism, Marx was content 
to assume that these functions would be discharged not by 

iMarx, The Poverty of Philosophy (English trans.), p. 166. 
2 Marx and Engels, Works (Russian ed.), XV, p. 273. 
8 Marx, Capital, vol. HI (English trans.), p. 221. 
4 Marx, Capital, vol. Ill (English trans.), p. 773. 

22 



the state or by any political organ, but by the producers 
themselves; and beyond this he did not go. 

Nor did his disciples down to 1917 make any significant 
progress along this line. In the fifty years which followed 
the publication of Capital no really significant contribution 
was made to the theoretical elaboration of a socialist economic 
order. "We knew when we took power into our hands," said 
Lenin six months after the October revolution, "that there 
were no ready forms of concrete reorganization of the capi- 
talist system into a socialist one. ... I do not know of any 
socialist who has dealt with these problems." And speaking of 
production and exchange, he added: "There was nothing 
written about such matters in the Bolshevik text-books, or 
even in those of the Mensheviks." Nothing substantial had 
been added to Marx's vague notion of a self-organization of 
the workers into communes or communities of producers. 

Planning, in the sense of the central direction of a national 
economy towards a centrally determined end or series of 
ends, was a product of national emergency rather than of a 
desire for social reform. On the theoretical side, the title of 
father of planning belongs rather to Friedrich List than to 
Karl Marx. Not only did List's National System of Political 
TLconomy lay a foundation for national planning as a means 
of building up German industrial strength but rudiments of 
the process of planning are scattered here and there through 
his works. 1 It was the war of 1914-18 which taught the les- 

1 In a pamphlet significantly entitled On a Saxon Railway System as 
Foundation of a General German Railway System, List, writing in 1833, 
used an argument fundamental to planning which would have come pat a 
century later: 

"What is an expenditure of 4 millions, yes, I ask, what is an expenditure 
of 6 or 10 millions, where such great national interests are at stake, and 
where at the same time the capital invested earns such extraordinarily high 
interest? The more capital that can be invested in such conditions the better. 
The mere investment of such large capital sums spreads food, work, happi- 



son that the most efficient organization of production for a 
socially necessary purpose could not be achieved within the 
limits of the free capitalist system, that is to say, through the 
stimulus of the price mechanism, and that direct control and 
organization of production by the state was required. The 
lesson was learned scarcely at all in Russia, and at best partially 
in Great Britain. It was learned thoroughly only in the father- 
land of List where the name of "planned economy" was in- 
vented, and its practice developed, by Rathenau and his 
experts in the German War Raw Materials Department. 
Thus, except in the limited sense that a community at war 
has a stronger incentive than at any other time to prevent 
the growth of resentments due to inequality of conditions or 
of sacrifices, and necessarily accepts in some degree the prin- 
ciple of distribution "to each according to his needs", planned 
economy in its first developed form owed nothing to ideals 
of socialism or social justice. 

The first approach to planning in Soviet Russia was ex- 
tremely tentative and hesitant. The process of "nationaliza- 
tion" meant, in the early days of the revolution, the taking 
over of the factories by the workers, of the land by those who 
tilled it. "Every factory and every farm", said Lenin in 1918, 
would constitute "a production and consumption commune" 
and would "solve in its own way the problem of calculating 
the production and distribution of products". There is little 
evidence to show how far the Bolshevik leaders were alive to 
the implications of planned economy in war-time Germany; 
but it was war this time civil war which also imposed the 
elements of planning on Soviet Russia. In Russia, as in Ger- 
many, national survival depended on the organization of 
limited national resources as a single whole in which each part 

ness and well-being among the masses of the population along the line, 
since nine-tenths of the expenditure benefit the working class " 



was controlled or directed towards the fulfilment of a na- 
tional aim. This was the period of "war communism" whose 
horrors and hardships afterwards gave it a bad name in Soviet 
history. But, in the Soviet Union as elsewhere, a certain mili- 
tary aroma clung to the terminology of planning: there con- 
tinued to be agrarian and industrial "fronts", "battles" of 
production, "shock brigades" of workers and so forth. 

It was the experience of these years, combined with the 
intuition of Lenin, which really started "planning" on its 
world-wide career. Lenin and his coadjutors clearly perceived 
that victory in the civil war would be the beginning not the 
end of the difficulties of the regime. Neither national security 
in a hostile world, nor the survival of the proletarian revolu- 
tion at home, could be hoped for without a policy of inten- 
sive industrialization. Since foreign capital in any significant 
amount was unobtainable, the capital required could be pro- 
vided only by exploitation of the peasant mass; and this ex- 
ploitation would be wholly intolerable if it were not mitigated 
by a rise in the efficiency and productivity of Soviet agricul- 
ture. The necessary increase of productivity could, Lenin 
thought, be achieved through a plan for the wholesale exten- 
sion of electric power throughout the Russian countryside; 
and in December 1920, immediately at the end of the civil 
war, a state commission was appointed to elaborate such a 
plan. The idea was a mixture of naivety and brilliance. The 
fundamental conception was profoundly right; the details 
were often Utopian. Perhaps the most important fact about 
the project was that it was thought of merely as the first of a 
number of plans through which productivity could be in- 
creased by a deliberate and centrally directed reorganization 
. of the national economy. But this was not yet planning in the 
sense of a balanced and integrated direction of the whole na- 
tional economy: it was simply a collection of separate plans 



for the fulfilment of particular objects or the rehabilitation 
of particular industries. The Soviet Union eventually reached 
global planning through the stage of a number of partial and 
unco-ordinated plans. 

The period of the New Economic Policy (NEP) was a 
period of struggle and contradiction between, on the one 
hand, the need to make the economy work by appeasing the 
peasant and, on the other hand, the desire to build up a 
strong national economy on socialist lines at any cost short of 
a complete breakdown. The significant decisions which pre- 
pared the way for the victory of planning were those of the 
thirteenth Party Congress in favour of "socialism in one 
country" and of the fourteenth Congress in favour of "indus- 
trialization". Neither of these could be achieved through the 
operations of a "free" economy; and from the moment when 
they were adopted, NEP became obsolete and began to 
wither away. In 1925 the first "control figures" (a sort of in- 
dustrial budget) for the year 1925-6 were produced. In 
1927 the first tentative five-year plan, under the title Control 
Figures -for the Industry of the USSR for the Five Years 
1927-8 to 1931-2, was submitted to the fifteenth Party Con- 
gress. The official first Five- Year Plan came into effect on 
October i, 1928. This date marked the final liquidation of 
NEP and the adhesion of the Soviet Union to a policy of 
planning which has been vigorously pursued ever since. It 
is in a sense true that both "war communism" and NEP had 
been forced responses to national emergencies. The period of 
the Five-Year Plans represented the first voluntary and delib- 
erate adoption by the Soviet Union of the policy of planning. 
. . . . 

This complicated ancestry of planning in the Soviet Union, 
and of planning in general, makes it curiously difficult to an- 

26 



swer in clear or concise terms the question, Why plan? or, 
What are we planning for? The answer is two-fold. Planning 
is a Janus-like affair having both a national and a social face. 
It stands for national efficiency in the sense of more efficient 
production and it stands for social justice in the sense of more 
equitable distribution, the link between the two aspects being 
a deliberate rejection of, and reaction from, the laissez-faire 
thesis that efficiency in production and justice in distribution 
will both be most nearly assured by a system which allows 
the least public interference with the automatic operation of 
the economic order. We need not at this moment consider 
which aspect of planning historically or logically precedes the 
other. Both are necessary. If we neglect the "national" aspect, 
we shall forget that planning is required just as much for na- 
tional efficiency in production as for social justice in dis- 
tribution; and we may then fall into the error of those social- 
ists who believe that, once wealth and incomes have been 
equalized in obedience to the claims of social justice, the 
direction of production into the required channels can be 
left under socialism, as in a laissez-faire economy, to the unin- 
hibited working of the price mechanism. If on the other 
hand we neglect the "social" aspect, we shall fall into the 
heresy of efficiency for efficiency's sake and conclude that 
planning is simply the instrument of national power and na- 
tional aggrandisement the doctrine of fascism. Hitierism 
took the name of national socialism. But the fact that it was 
not capitalist did not make it socialist: it approximated far 
more nearly to the conceptions of the American "tech- 
nocrats" or of Mr. Burnham's "managerial revolution" the 
cult of efficiency for the sake of power. The Soviet Union 
has been generally accepted as the creator of contemporary 
"planning", not so much because it first started planning or 



even because it did it more thoroughly than anyone else, but 
because it has most successfully combined the national and 
social aspects of planning into a single policy. 

The essence of planning in its national aspect is the treat- 
ment of the nation as an economic unit and its substitution 
for the accidental unit of corporation, firm or individual 
trader. It should be noted at this point that there is no logical 
reason why planning should stop at the nation. In theory the 
sequel to national planning is international planning, and some 
reference will be made to this in a later chapter. But for the 
moment the nation remains in general the largest effective 
planning unit. 

The first thing to note about the national aspect of plan- 
ning is that it is a continuation and development of processes 
already set in motion under capitalism. Ever since producers 
and traders began to get together and form groups, companies 
and associations for the furtherance of their interests in com- 
mon, there has been planning of a kind. The development of 
capitalism, following the lines of the struggle for life and the 
survival of the fittest in accordance with the purest laissez- 
faire principles, led to the formation of more and more com- 
prehensive and powerful groups: the units by and for which 
plans were made grew larger. No point was in sight cer- 
tainly no point short of the national community at which 
this development would naturally be halted. Capitalism itself 
had paved the way for planning on a national scale and made 
it logical and inevitable. Rathenau is reported to have said 
that he had learned all he knew about planned economy from 
his father, the creator and managing director of the A.E.G. 
"The true pacemakers of socialism", a recent writer has said, 
"were not the intellectuals or agitators who preached it, but 
the Vanderbilts, Carnegies and Rockefellers". 1 Things had 

1 J. A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, p. 134. 

28 



reached the point, foreseen by Marx in a famous passage of 
Capital, at which "centralization of the means of production 
and socialization of labour at last . . . become incompatible 
with their capitalist integument." As Lenin wrote: 

Compulsory syndicalization, i.e. compulsory unification into 
associations under state control, that is what capitalism has pre- 
pared, that is what the junker state has carried out in Germany, 
that is what will be fully carried out in Russia for the Soviets, 
for the dictatorship of the proletariat. 1 

Capitalism is progressive, Lenin had written earlier, so long 
as it is developing the forces of production; but "all the same, 
at a certain stage of development, it holds up the growth of 
productive forces". 2 Capitalism becomes reactionary and 
seeks to arrest the natural process of its own development 
when it opposes planning by and for the national unit. 

The question here arises why this point should have been 
reached first of all in industrially backward Russia, and why 
therefore the Soviet Union should have led the world in na- 
tional planning. The superficial answer, valid as far as it 
goes, is that planning has more immediate attractions for poor 
countries than for rich ones. The essence of planning is the 
considered assignment of priorities for the allocation of scarce 
resources. A man earning ^5 a week has, other things being 
equal, more cause to plan than a man with ^5,000 a year. 
Nations take more readily to planning in times of war or 
economic crisis than in the palmy days of peace and pros- 
perity. Great Britain, as she has grown poorer, has recognized 
more clearly the need to plan. The richest country in the 
world today is the most recalcitrant to planning. Hence it is 
not unnatural that Russia, the poorest and most backward of 

1 Lenin, Works, XXI (in Russian), pp. 261-2. 
2 Lenin, Works, XV (in Russian), p. 6. 



the great modern nations, should have been a pioneer of 
planning. Russian planners, from Peter to Stalin, have re- 
peatedly justified their policy by the need of enabling 
backward Russia to catch up with the more advanced Euro- 
pean nations. 

The more profound reason why the Soviet Union has led 
the way in planning is that Russia was industrially backward 
only in the sense that Russian industry occupied a relatively 
insignificant proportion of the population and was not par- 
ticularly efficient. In another sense it was anything but back- 
ward. In Russia, capitalism, having been imported from abroad 
and not developed from individual craftsmanship by a slow, 
indigenous growth, had from the first been large-scale capital- 
ism; and much of it had from the first worked in close depend- 
ence on the state. Except for the textile industry, industrializa- 
tion in Russia was not primarily inspired, as it had been in 
western Europe, by entrepreneurs in search of profits. It was 
directly fostered and supported by the state, mainly in the 
interests of military efficiency. At the moment of the intro- 
duction of the first Five-Year Plan, Stalin appropriately re- 
called how "Peter the Great, having to deal with the more 
developed countries of the west, feverishly built factories and 
workshops to supply the army and strengthen the defence of 
the country". 1 In the closing years of the ipth century the 
introduction into Russia of modern heavy industry was pro- 
moted by the Finance Minister, Witte, and financed by 
French capitalists, mainly in the interests of Russian military 
preparedness. Thus in its predilection for large-scale organiza- 
tion, in its dependence on state initiative and patronage, and 
in the absence of serious opposition from smaller private capi- 
talism (the principal enemy of planning in western Europe), 
the Russian economic system, in spite of its backwardness in 
1 Stalin, Leninism, n, p. 153. 

3 



other respects, was particularly well adapted to become the 
pioneer of national planning. 

Planning is therefore in one aspect simply a culmination of 
the long process of development which successively replaced 
the individual craftsman or trader by the small business, the 
small business by the large company, and the large company 
by the giant combine, so that the national economic unit is 
merely the greatest combine of all a vast agglomeration of 
associated, affiliated and subsidiary companies or enterprises 
of all shapes and sizes, pursuing the same general policy under 
the same general direction at the centre. This view will throw 
immediate light on some of the problems of planning; for 
many of the difficulties of policy and accountancy now being 
faced on the national plane have been met and solved for years 
past by the management of large industrial or commercial con- 
cerns. It has long been a commonplace that it will pay a large 
firm to sell a product for a considerable period at a loss in 
order to build up a market for it, bearing the loss on the rest 
of the firm's turn-over: this in the national sphere is the well- 
worn "infant industry" argument for protection. It is a com- 
monplace that, once a market has been established for a prod- 
uct at a price which leaves a satisfactory margin over cost, it 
may pay to find fresh outlets for an expansion of production 
at a lower price even at a price below average costs so long 
as the higher price markets are not thereby affected: this in 
the sphere of international trade is what is called dumping. 
It is a commonplace that a large firm will desire to make sure 
of essential supplies of raw materials or other components by 
long-term and often exclusive contracts with suppliers: these 
are known internationally as bulk purchase agreements. It 
may even create subsidiary companies to produce under its 
own supervision what it requires: these are known interna- 
tionally as "spheres of influence" or "concessions". But there 

3* 



is another parallel of a rather different kind. No firm, how- 
ever large or however small, can for any length of time afford 
to keep idle hands. Once the nation becomes the economic 
unit it cannot tolerate idle workers. Planning makes nonsense 
of unemployment. 

Planning therefore for the national unit for the first time 
entails a view of the national economy as a whole. Laissez- 
faire was justified, and could only be justified, on the assump- 
tion that individuals working separately in their own interest 
contrived without intending it to achieve the highest good of 
the community the famous doctrine of the natural harmony 
of interests. We know that, for a variety of reasons, this 
assumption was never fully valid and that it has long lost the 
limited degree of validity which it once possessed. Planning 
presupposes that the interest of the community has to be pre- 
determined by a decision in the formulation of which individ- 
uals and their interests play a part, though governmental au- 
thority is required to bring them into harmony. Hence gov- 
ernment is now concerned with the whole national economy. 
The traditional state "budget" covered, and still covers, only 
that part of the national income which is for one reason or 
another directly handled by the administrative organs of the 
state; and under a regime of planning it is often a matter of 
policy, almost of accident, whether particular items figure in 
the budget or are excluded from it. Nor is there any particu- 
lar reason why the budget in the old sense should not show a 
deficit and why this deficit should not persist indefinitely. 
The framing of the budget involves the minor decision how 
much the nation can afford to devote to the maintenance of 
"non-productive" services administrative, social, cultural 
and so forth; it involves the further, and also minor, decision 
how far these services should be financed by fees collected 
from the beneficiaries, by taxation, or by borrowing, i.e. by 



a deficit which must be made good out of other sectors of the 
national economy. But the drawing up of the comprehensive 
national economic plan, the division of productive resources 
between production for consumption and production for 
capital accumulation, the fixing of wage levels and price levels, 
the framing of currency and credit policy all these major 
decisions fall outside its scope. These are the decisions which 
in the Soviet Union since 1928 have been incorporated in the 
Five-Year Plans the real budgets of the whole national econ- 
omy. In Great Britain, it is only since 1941 that the Central 
Statistical Office attached to the Cabinet Secretariat has issued 
an annual estimate of "National Income and Expenditure" 
which has gradually come to eclipse the traditional budget in 
importance. Devised as a war expedient this annual White 
Paper has quickly become a national institution, and the nec- 
essary foundation of any national investment and full em- 
ployment policy. Thus Great Britain, following the Soviet 
precedent, has, not yet, it is true, a full-grown national plan, 
but at any rate the basic statistical material on which any such 
plan must be founded. At last there is unequivocal recognition 
that what really matters is not what the government as such 
spends and receives but what the community as a whole con- 
sumes and produces. 

But what have we learned, or can we learn, from Soviet 
precept or practice about the methods and instruments of na- 
tional planning? Lord Keynes once confessed in a rash mo- 
ment that he could not "perceive that Russian communism 
has made any contribution to our economic problems of in- 
tellectual interest or scientific value". 1 Nevertheless, even if it 
were demonstrated as I think it can be that Lord Keynes 

1 J. M. Keynes, A Short View of Russia (1925), reprinted in Essays in 
Persziasion (1931), p. 306. 

33 



reached his own conclusions by different routes and quite in- 
dependently of anything that happened in Russia, it would be 
still true to say that the main positions of "Keynesian eco- 
nomics" had already been established in Soviet economic poli- 
cies, and that Lord Keynes's doctrines found such ready ac- 
ceptance in Great Britain and elsewhere partly because the 
ground had already been prepared in the minds of his con- 
temporaries by contemplation of the planned economy of the 
Soviet Union. 

The cardinal positions of the Keynesian economic revolu- 
tion may be summarized as follows: 

(a) that resources left unused owing to individual abstinence 
from consumption do not necessarily, or by any automatic proc- 
ess, find their way into "investment", i.e. the creation of produc- 
tive capital. 

(b) that abstinence of the well-to-do from consumption, far 
from being an unconditional blessing, may be less useful to the 
community than their spending, and that the classical argument 
which justifies inequality of wealth as an impetus to investment 
thus disappears. (Lord Keynes at one time looked forward with 
satisfaction to "the euthanasia of the rentier".) 

(c) that, even in default of a sufficient volume of individual 
savings and investment, investment can still be maintained at the 
requisite level by "communal saving through the agency of the 
state", i.e. through fiscal policy. 

(d) that this "communal saving", together with its counter- 
part the "comprehensive socialization of investment", i.e. the 
treatment of investment not as an automatic product of private 
savings in search of profit, but as a decision of public policy, is 
the condition of full employment. 

It would not be difficult to show that these principles had been 
applied in the Soviet Union and accepted as the basis of Soviet 
planning before they were worked out in the form of eco- 
nomic theory by Lord Keynes. The elimination of the rentier 

34 



in Soviet Russia, by a process perhaps less humane than that 
contemplated in Lord Keynes's aphorism, deprived Soviet 
planners of any temptation to rely on voluntary private sav- 
ings, or voluntary abstinence from consumption, for the crea- 
tion of the capital necessary for industrialization; nor could 
they resort to the process of borrowing foreign capital by 
which the nations of the new world had built up their indus- 
tries. They were therefore driven by force of circumstances 
rather than by economic argument to Lord Keynes's conclu- 
sion that the full employment of their resources could only 
be achieved, first, by "communal saving through the agency 
of the state", which was achieved partly by direct and indi- 
rect taxation, partly by compulsory borrowing, supported by 
rationing and price-fixing policies, and, secondly, by that 
"comprehensive socialization of investment" which is the 
essence of planning. 

The main task of planning is the establishment of priorities 
for the investment of national resources, including in that 
term both materials and man-power; and since this means the 
allocation of scarce resources among a larger number of pur- 
poses than can possibly all be attained, consistent planning 
can leave no room except, of course, through some tem- 
porary dislocation f or unused resources or unemployed man- 
power. No frontal attack on unemployment, such as was 
continually under discussion in the 'thirties throughout the 
western world, was ever made in the Soviet Union. It was 
indeed a grave problem in the Soviet Union of the later 
'twenties, and was recognized as such. But it was rightly 
treated not as substantive evil, but as the symptom of a dis- 
eased economy. It was attributed to the capitalist elements in 
NEP and was automatically absorbed by the first Five-Year 
Plan. In other words full employment was achieved, as it 
always should be, not as an end in itself, but as the by-product 

35 



of a determination to fulfil other purposes. What is of inter- 
est, and what has made so profound an impression on the out- 
side world, is a consideration of the means by which full em- 
ployment was effected. 

The initial and fundamental choice in planning must be to 
settle the proportion of production for consumption and 
production for capital accumulation respectively. 1 Until this 
point is reached, i.e. until a national investment policy has 
been worked out, there can be no real planning. Now al- 
though resources left unused through abstinence from con- 
sumption do not automatically flow into investment for capital 
accumulation, it is nevertheless true that in conditions of full 
employment the decision to invest for capital accumulation 
imposes pro unto a reduction of consumption. In a rich and 
highly industrialized economy the rate of investment for 
capital accumulation (renewal and development of machinery, 
equipment, etc.) tends to lag behind the capacity for volun- 
tary saving, so that its effect on consumption will not be 
ordinarily noticed. But in a country undergoing either a rapid 
process of industrialization or any other radical transforma- 
tion of its economy, the rate of capital accumulation may have 
to be raised so sharply as to impose a conspicuous reduction of 
consumption; and this condition approximates to that of a 
country at war where a similar reduction of consumption is 
imposed by the need to invest all available resources in the 
output of non-productive armaments. It is for this reason that 
the planning policies of the Soviet Union provide so many 
precedents for British practice during the second world war. 
For the same reason these precedents will remain valid during 

1 Marx himself had written that under socialism "society must calculate 
beforehand how much labour, means of production and means of sub- 
sistence it can utilize without injury for such lines of activity as, for in- 
stance, the building of railroads." (Capital, vol. II. (English trans. 1907), 
p. 3 6 0- 

36 



the period of radical economic re-adjustment which confronts 
Great Britain after the war. The explanatory White Paper 
issued with the Bill to create a National Investment Council 
stated clearly that 

it is the policy of His Majesty's Government to establish and main- 
tain a proper balance between the economic resources of the 
community and the demands upon them. This means that priority 
must always be assured for those projects of capital development 
which are of the greatest importance in the national interest. 1 

The "socialization of investment", carrying with it a con- 
sidered choice between production for consumption and pro- 
duction for capital accumulation, runs through the whole 
history of Soviet planning. Industrialization in the oversea 
countries, as well as in some parts of western Europe, had 
been effected largely on borrowed capital. Great Britain was 
intensively industrialized without borrowing in the early years 
of the i pth century through the ruthless exploitation of a 
working population driven by various pressures from the 
country into the towns. But Great Britain was already at the 
time a highly developed community, possessing a large and 
vigorous middle class, a productive agriculture and a nucleus 
of individual craftsmen and small workshops busily engaged 
on the output of consumers' goods. Russia had none of these 
things; and the Soviet planners, once the slack of unemploy- 
ment in the later i9zo's had been taken up, had no resource 
but to procure the capital for industrialization by imposing a 
forced abstention from consumption on a mainly peasant 
population living at, or sometimes below, a bare subsistence 
level. The constant dilemma of Soviet planning policy was to 
impose on a predominantly peasant population a degree of 
abstention from consumption sufficient to finance industrial- 

1 Cmd. 6726, p. 2. 

37 



ization without provoking either a refusal on the part of the 
peasants to produce food to supply the industrial worker or 
a refusal on the part of the industrial workers to man the fac- 
tories for wages which represented a restricted and inadequate 
purchasing power. 

Russian conditions do not therefore provide a precise 
precedent for planning in countries where the main task of 
industrialization has been achieved and relatively high stand- 
ards of living attained. But the principle of the choice be- 
tween production for immediate consumption and production 
for accumulation is essential to all planning; and many of the 
devices adopted in Britain during the war some of them 
likely to be perpetuated were the inventions of Soviet plan- 
ners. Thus rationing in order to secure the equitable dis- 
tribution of consumption goods which cannot be produced in 
sufficient quantity to meet demand has been combined with 
differential rationing designed to stimulate production among 
factory workers. One such differential device, the well-sup- 
plied factory canteen, was widely used in Britain during the 
war; another, the cheap factory shop, has not appeared in 
Britain, but may yet come. The vodka monopoly, abolished 
after the 1917 revolution, was restored in the Soviet Union in 
1924 in order to drain off purchasing power into a commodity 
whose production costs were low and a large proportion of 
whose high sale price returned at once to the exchequer in 
the form of taxation the policy now pursued in Great 
Britain with tobacco and beer. Since Britain will be faced for 
some time to come with the dilemma of needing to increase 
productivity while being at the same time unable to provide 
consumption goods in sufficient abundance to satisfy available 
purchasing power, the adoption of more of the devices of 
Soviet planners may be safely predicted. Privileged housing 
for industrial and other essential workers has been a feature 

38 



of the Russian economy and is a probability of the near future 
elsewhere. 

The "socialization of investment" provides the answer to 
another fundamental difficulty of modern capitalism, the prob- 
lem of risk-taking. The notion that the needs of technical 
progress can be assured and the requisite degree of inventive- 
ness fostered by the prospect of high profits accruing to the 
ingenious inventor, or to the bold entrepreneur who invests 
his capital in the invention, became obsolete with the demise 
of the small business. In the days of "imperfect competition" 
and quasi-monopoly, of big combines and of enormous in- 
vestments in fixed plant, the vastness of the investment re- 
quired to develop and exploit any important invention is itself 
sufficient to explain why capital has become less adventurous. 
The contemporary speculator generally prefers to gamble in 
produce or in stocks and shares rather than to found new 
enterprises. This leaves technical progress and invention to 
the mercy of giant combines whose resources are so vast as 
virtually to eliminate the notion of risk. But there is no guaran- 
tee that the considerations which move a large concern to 
undertake research, or to exploit an invention, are those 
which, on a still broader view, would seem technically or 
socially decisive. As a matter of fact, many of the great 
inventions of the present age have been exploited for the first 
time under the impact of war, when considerations of profit 
and loss have become altogether inoperative. The western 
countries at present occupy a half-way position. The notion 
of adventurous private capital taking risks in search of high 
profits and thus promoting technical progress is virtually dead. 
The notion that investment for this purpose should be deter- 
mined by social ends, using the term in its broadest sense, has 
not yet won widespread acceptance outside the Soviet Union. 
But there is no doubt that this is the direction in which the 

39 



western world, partly under the influence of Soviet example, 
is steadily moving. 

Since the price-fixing policies of the western countries are 
in a similar intermediate position, it may be appropriate to 
add a few reflexions on the functions of currency and prices 
in a planned economy, and on the lessons which can be learned 
from Soviet planning on this point. The conception of a 
managed currency did not originate in the Soviet Union. 
Shortly after the first world war the notion of a currency 
geared not to gold or any fixed standard, but to a variable 
price index, was canvassed by many economists, including 
Professor Irving Fisher in the United States and Lord Keynes 
in Great Britain. A further elaboration of this idea was Gustav 
Cassel's proposal for "purchasing power parity" as a regulator 
of foreign exchanges, so that currencies would fluctuate inter- 
nationally in conformity with price levels. The assumption 
behind all these proposals was that prices were "naturally" 
determined, and that, while currencies could with advantage 
be "managed", prices would be left unmanaged. 

The Soviet authorities themselves experimented with this 
theory in the early ipzo's. In 1921, faced with the impossi- 
bility of any kind of budgeting in progressively depreciating 
roubles, they decided that the budget should be drawn up in 
terms of 1913 roubles with a shifting rate of conversion into 
current roubles on the basis of a monthly price index. This 
system disappeared with the stabilization of the currency in 
1924; and with the introduction of planning it became clear 
that "managed" prices were as much part of a planned econ- 
omy as a "managed" currency and that neither one nor the 
other could be the basis of a fixed standard. In 1931 about 
the time when Great Britain began to experiment with a cur- 
rency based on price stabilization the Soviet Government 
discovered that a price index is meaningless in a planned econ- 
omy and ceased to issue one. Not till the second world war 

40 



did Great Britain resort on an extensive scale to a policy of 
"managed" prices, with the tentative beginnings of a policy 
of differential prices for different categories of the popula- 
tion. It seems safe to predict that in Great Britain, as in the 
Soviet Union, price-fixing will remain an important instru- 
ment of social policy in a planned economy, and that the 
price index will become more and more unreal as a guide to 
economic policy. 

Having come thus far, we are faced with the question where 
to find our ultimate standard of value, our test of efficiency. 
If not in currencies, if not in commodity prices, where? And 
the answer can only be found in some set of values determined 
by a consciously adopted social policy. The argument thus 
brings us back from the national to the social aspect of plan- 
ning. Planning, in fact, automatically raises a number of ques- 
tions which cannot be answered on grounds of abstract ef- 
ficiency and depend on an answer to the previous question, 
Planning for what? or, Efficiency for what? What propor- 
tion of available resources should be devoted to the production 
of consumer and capital goods respectively? Within these 
categories, how should priorities be determined for the pro- 
duction of particular commodities? What consideration should 
govern price-fixing policies? What "profit" margins should 
be allowed for, and how should "profits" be distributed? In 
war, these questions answer themselves. Planning is essential 
to national survival and for this purpose almost any sacrifice is 
worth while. In peace, planning can be maintained only if it 
is directed to social purposes sufficiently strong to provide an 
accepted standard of values and to claim loyalty and self- 
sacrifice from its citizens for their attainment. The achieve- 
ment of the Soviet Union has been to establish planning as a 
normal peace-time procedure and as the instrument of a social 
policy carrying with it both rights and obligations for the 
citizen. 

4 1 



Ill 

THE SOCIAL IMPACT 

IT is interesting to reflect why the zoth century has been so 
much more concerned than its predecessor with social policies. 
Economically, this is due, as was suggested in the last chapter, 
to the need for planning which presupposes a social policy. 
Sociologically, it is explained by the increase in numbers and 
influence of an organized working class, concentrated in fac- 
tories and cities the product of industrial civilization. Ideo- 
logically, it is the decay of the negative doctrine of laissez- 
faire which has called for a new and positive social philosophy. 
The laissez-faire ideology which predominated in the i9th 
century encouraged the belief that the interplay of individuals 
each pursuing his own rational interest automatically produced 
the best social results, and that the proper function of govern- 
ment was to maintain order and fair play among competing 
individuals, but not to initiate an active social policy. Hence 
no definition of social purposes was required. Orthodox opin- 
ion tended to believe that governments were a necessary evil 
and that the less positive action they took, the better. But 
under the pressure of industrial conditions, and the growth of 
working-class parties imbued with socialist doctrine, this 
opinion had begun to wear thin by the first decade of the zoth 
century. Today it has hardly any wholehearted adherents left, 
except perhaps in certain circles in the United States. The 

4* 



case for a greater or smaller degree of social planning is now 
almost universally accepted; and in this retreat from laissez- 
faire Soviet example has been a predominant influence. 

So far as the western world is concerned, however, the 
retreat has been only partial; the battle-ground has merely 
shifted. On the one hand, the residuary legatees of laissez- 
faire argue nowadays not indeed that state intervention is 
always and in all circumstances to be deprecated, but that it 
should be undertaken piecemeal, to meet urgent needs or 
remedy glaring injustices. On the other hand, the planners 
demand a coherent and considered social and economic policy 
extending to almost every field of public affairs to promote 
both national efficiency and social justice. The reluctance of 
the western nations to adopt planning on a comprehensive 
scale is partly connected with their traditionally empirical 
habits of thought, their reluctance to formulate a comprehen- 
sive social philosophy. Yet once the automatism of laissez- 
faire is abandoned, the decisions inherent in planning can only 
be taken, implicitly or explicitly, on the basis of such a 
philosophy. 

Soviet planning is directed, as all coherent planning must 
be, to the fulfilment of defined social purposes. In words once 
used by Trotsky, "the Soviet system wishes to bring aim and 
plan into the very basis of society". 1 Three fundamental points 
underlie the social philosophy of Soviet planning. In the first 
place, it combines a material and a moral appeal. Secondly, it 
is defined not in individual, but in social or collective terms. 
Thirdly, it demands a recognition of equal social obligations 
as well as of equal social rights. 

The material purpose of the social philosophy of planning 
is the aim avowed by socialism from the outset and defined 

1 Trotsky, The History of the Russian Revolution (English trans^ one 
vol. edition), p. 1191. 

43 



more than a century ago by Saint-Simon "to improve as 
much as possible the lot of the class which has no other means 
of existence but the labour of its hands". 1 This was the start- 
ing-point of Marx. The avowed social purpose of Soviet plan- 
ning is to improve the lot of the common man, and, in par- 
ticular, to raise his standard of living. As long ago as 1870 the 
bourgeois historian Burckhardt noted "the desire of the masses 
for a higher standard of living" as "the dominating feeling of 
our age"; 2 and Marxism has encouraged the now commonly 
accepted belief that improved material standards of living are 
the foundation of other forms of improvement. Neverthe- 
less it would be a mistake to suppose that the goal of plan- 
ning is conceived in purely material terms. The attention 
given to education and cultural activities does not suggest a 
narrowly materialist view of the task of improving the lot of 
the workers; and the degree of moral fervour for the social 
purposes of Soviet policy which is, according to all observers, 
generated among the citizens of the Soviet Union is an an- 
swer to those critics who used to argue that Marxism could 
never be successful because it lacked a moral appeal. 

The moral appeal is strongly reinforced by the demand, 
implicit in Soviet ideology, for social justice in the form of 
equality between man and man. The equality preached in the 
Soviet Union is not an equality of function or an equality of 
reward. Socially important functions discharged or socially 
important work done are legitimate and relevant grounds for 
inequality. But equality, in the sense in which it is one of the 
fundamental purposes of Soviet social policy, means non- 
discrimination between human beings on irrelevant grounds 
such as sex, race, colour or class. Soviet principles and prac- 
tice compare favourably in this respect with those of some 

1 Weill, Saint-Simon et les Saint-Sbnoniens, p. 175. 

2 J. Burckhardt, Reflections on History (English trans.), p. 203. 

44 



democratic countries. One effect of the Soviet impact on these 
countries has been an increased recognition of the irrelevance 
of such barriers and a strengthened demand to sweep them 
away. 

Secondly, the social purpose which governs Soviet policy 
and Soviet planning is defined in terms not of individual de- 
mand, but of social need. The conception of planning implies 
that society has the right and the obligation to decide by a col- 
lective act what is good for the society as a whole and to make 
that decision binding on the individual. Politically, this has 
always been admitted. Economically, the philosophy of laissez- 
faire was exclusively individualist. It recognized no good 
which could not be measured in terms of individual demand, 
the social good being merely the automatic by-product of an 
uninhibited interplay of individual interests. Old-fashioned 
economists like Professor von Mises and Professor von Hayek, 
who still accept this philosophy, argue that there can be no 
such thing as a social purpose and that all planning must be 
arbitrary and irrational. This is partly a matter of terminology. 
If measurable individual demand is the sole rational criterion 
of the "greatest good of the greatest number", then planning 
remains in this sense "irrational". But it is a curiously defeatist 
view of human nature, and fails altogether to tally with the 
facts, to hold that the only social good which can be recog- 
nized as rational is the victory of one's nation in war, and 
that it is impossible to define rationally any other social pur- 
pose for which the individual can properly be asked to sacrifice 
himself. Naturally the pursuit of any social purpose, like any 
other human activity, is likely to be tainted by individual in- 
terest, and the process of planning for its fulfilment, like every 
other function of government, may involve acts of individual 
oppression. But it seems pointless to deny that men and women 
in their social and economic activities formulate purposes 

45 



which cannot be measured in terms of individual demand, and 
are as ready to sacrifice themselves in the pursuit of those 
purposes as they are in the pursuit of individual interest. The 
essential difference between laissez-faire and socialism in all 
its manifold shapes is that socialism explicitly recognizes the 
existence of collective social purposes and the ultimate right 
of society to give an authoritative definition of them. "To 
each according to his needs" implies a judgment by society 
of what the needs of the individual are. Such a judgment pro- 
vides the rational basis for the priorities established by plan- 
ning. Admittedly it implies decisions of public policy in a 
field from which public action was excluded by the doctrine 
of laissez-faire. But this is the essence of planning. The retort 
"Who will plan the planners?" is no more than a smart debat- 
ing-point; it merely registers the fundamental dilemma of all 
government that authority is a necessary condition of any 
social order and that all authority is liable to be abused. 

Thirdly, the social purpose of the Soviet system demands 
a recognition of equal social obligations as well as of equal 
social rights. As the driving force of the economic system, it 
attempts to substitute the positive incentive of social obliga- 
tion for the negative incentive of the fear of penury and 
hunger. The issue provokes acute controversy, the basis of 
which is emotional rather than rational. The western world 
workers as well as capitalists has generally been disposed to 
think that the indirect impersonal pressure of need is a less 
objectionable way of driving men to work than the direct 
compulsion of a public authority. In theory, at any rate, the 
indirect method seems to offer the worker greater freedom 
in the choice of a job, though where jobs are scarce this free- 
dom is more theoretical than real. The Soviet view has con- 
sistently been that nothing can be more degrading to the 
worker than the constraint imposed on him by the capitalist 



employer who exploits him for personal profit; since there 
must be some form of discipline for the individual worker, 
the most honourable compulsion is that imposed directly by a 
public authority representing the will and the interests of the 
whole body of the workers. 

It would be rash to suggest that such views have yet been 
widely accepted, or even understood, in the west. But how far 
the climate of opinion has changed even in Great Britain is 
shown by an utterance of that staunch trade unionist cer- 
tainly no ardent champion of the Soviet Union Mr. Bevin, 
who in a speech in the House of Commons as Minister of 
Labour, spoke of the difficulty of explaining the Essential 
Works Order to "people who never expected to have dis- 
cipline of any kind except the most unfortunate discipline of 
all, the economic whip", and added that "you cannot have 
social security in this country without having some obliga- 
tion". 1 In Russia the obligation of the individual to serve the 
state in whatever capacity the state might direct was firmly 
established by Peter the Great, if not earlier. The institution 
of serfdom survived till 1861. Until that time, the obligation 
to work rested, for the vast majority of Russian workers, on 
legal status. Only thereafter was legal compulsion replaced in 
Russia, as in western Europe, by the "economic whip"; and it 
may be doubted whether the change seemed as significant to 
most of those affected as it did to historians and publicists. 
Certainly in Russia there was likely to be less opposition than 
in the west to the re-establishrnent of a direct legal obligation 
to work. 

The development of Soviet policy in regard to labour makes, 
an instructive study. "The right to work" was a slogan dating 

i "Parliamentary Debates: House of Co?nmons, 5 vols., 380 (May zr, 1942), 
col. 423. 

47 



from the 1840'$: it was the natural socialist answer to the 
capitalist doctrine of the need for "a reserve army of labour". 
But socialists soon began to realize that the right to work 
under capitalism would have to be transformed into an obliga- 
tion to work under socialism. As early as May 1917, Lenin 
introduced into Bolshevik propaganda the idea of a general 
obligation to work, and this was endorsed by a resolution of 
the Party Congress in July 1917. In his famous pamphlet, 
Will the Eolsheviks Be Able to Retain Power?, written on 
the eve of the Bolshevik revolution, Lenin quoted for the first 
time "He that does not work neither shall he eat", and added: 

This is the fundamental, primary rule which the Soviets of 
Workers' Deputies can and will introduce as soon as they assume 
power. 1 

The "Declaration of the Rights of the Toiling and Exploited 
People" issued by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets in 
January 1918 asserted the general obligation to work. This 
was repeated in the first constitution of the Russian Socialist 
Federal Soviet Republic adopted later in the same year; and 
the constitution of the Soviet Union of 1936 follows Lenin 
in quoting "He that does not work neither shall he eat" 
probably the only biblical text which has figured in a Soviet 
official document. 

At first, the principle of the obligation to work was enun- 
ciated as if it were a weapon aimed against the idle rich. It 
was introduced, according to the Declaration of January 
1918, "for the purpose of abolishing the parasitic strata of 
society and of organizing economic life". But the revolution, 
in wiping out this not very numerous class, soon changed the 
application of the principle. t 

1 Lenin, Works, XXI (in Russian), p. 263. 

4 8 



In. a system of state capitalism [as Bukharin put it] universal 
obligation to work is the enslavement of the working masses; in 
a system of proletarian dictatorship it is simply the self -organiza- 
tion of the masses for work. 1 

The first weeks of the revolution brought a general decay of 
discipline in the factories and a drifting away of the workers; 
and it soon became a condition not merely of economic well- 
being but of bare survival that this process should be ar- 
rested. At the session of the Supreme Economic Council in 
March 1918 the Vice-President of the Council, Milyutin, 
spoke in tentative language of the necessity of 

labour direction in the broad sense of the term, not labour direc- 
tion as it has been enforced in the west, not labour direction in 
the sense imagined by the masses, i.e. that all must be put to 
work, but labour direction as a system of the discipline of labour 
and as a system of the organization of labour in the interests of 
production. 

Milyutin, who was one of the earliest advocates of planning, 
went on to argue that no planning of production was pos- 
sible without "the establishment of a norm of definite obfiga- 
tory work", and added that this could be based "only on the 
independence and iron self-discipline of the masses of the 
workers". 3 This is probably the first explicit recognition on 
record of the fact, which is still not everywhere fully ac- 
cepted, that planning requires some "system of the organiza- 
tion of labour in the interests of production". 

Even in Soviet Russia it might have taken some time to push 
this argument to its conclusion but for the outbreak of civil 
war and foreign intervention, which began in the summer 

1 Bukharin, Ekonomika Perekhodnogo Perioda, Part I (Moscow 1920), 
p. 109. 

2 V. P. Milyutin, Istoriya Ekonomicheskogo Razvitiya SSSR, p. 137-8. 

49 



of 1918. For two and a half years the new regime was fight- 
ing for its life, and any form of mobilization was accepted as 
a national necessity. Exactly how much was achieved cannot 
be guessed: this was a period of utmost confusion and of laws 
and decrees issued in haste with little regard to the possibility 
of enforcing them. After a spate of laws, decrees and resolu- 
tions proclaiming a universal obligation to work, a committee 
on universal compulsory labour was set up in February 1920 
under the presidency of Dzerzhinsky, and a specific decree 
was* issued calling up three "classes" for labour service in 
September 1920. The name of Trotsky is especially associated 
with the organization of "labour battalions". His trenchant 
mind, untrammelled by considerations of political tact or ex- 
pediency, followed the logic which led from military con- 
scription to conscription of labour behind the lines; and he 
would have liked to make "labour battalions" a permanent 
part of the planned economy. But the end of the civil war 
and the coming of NEP relaxed all these efforts. In the 
Labour Code of 1922 compulsory labour is to be used only in 
"exceptional cases", defined as "struggle with elemental oc- 
currences, lack of labour power for carrying out important 
state tasks", though penalties against "desertion from work" 
are still maintained. But NEP soon relegated the question of 
labour discipline to the background. Among the other 
blessings of capitalism it brought back unemployment, which 
imposes its own discipline on labour. Where there are too 
many men for tod few jobs the problem of labour compulsion 
and direction does not arise. 

Only when the first Five-Year Plan took up the slack of 
unemployment, when increased production became the all- 
important need, and there were once more too few men for 
too many jobs, did questions of labour discipline once more 
become acute. The way in which the Soviet Union tackled 
them is instructive for countries which, having committed 

50 



themselves to policies of full employment, will be faced with 
similar problems. The methods adopted were eclectic and 
indicate no dogmatic or exclusive theory of labour discipline 
or labour incentives. There was no formal return to the 
labour conscription of the period of "war communism": the 
only "forced labour" in the Soviet Union of the 1930*5 was 
that of political and other prisoners who, collected together 
in great camps, were employed under conditions of captivity 
on public works. Nevertheless if formal compulsion was not 
applied to enforce the constitutional obligation to work, it 
was probably because less direct methods proved sufficient. 
In 1931, unemployment insurance was abolished on the 
ground that unemployment had ceased to exist; the institu- 
tion of work-books operated as a further check; and severe 
penalties were imposed on "labour desertion", absenteeism and 
bad time-keeping, though the reiteration of decrees against 
these practices suggest that this legislation was no more effec- 
tive than similar legislation in war-time Britain. Exactly how 
workers were recruited and how enterprises were prevented 
from competing against one another for scarce labour a 
problem which was experienced in war-time Britain and will 
always recur in conditions of full employment under plan- 
ning is difficult to ascertain. It may be surmised that the 
organization of the trade unions was adequate for the pur- 
pose. When Sir Ernest Simon investigated the Moscow munic- 
ipality in the 'thirties, he received this account of the recruit- 
ment of building operatives: 

A certain rural area is allotted to the Moscow Building Trust; 
they send their agents out to this area and by agreement with 
the collective farms bring in seasonal workers. They work 
at the farm when they are needed, especially in sowing time 
and harvest, and put in the rest of the year building in Mos- 
cow. 1 

1 E. D. Simon and others, Moscow in the Making, pp. 131-2. 

51 



Clearly such a system implies a substantial amount of "direc- 
tion of labour" and probably also the provision by the trust 
of housing for its workers. There is perhaps not much direct 
guidance here for the western world. But a good many prob- 
lems are foreshadowed which will confront all countries pur- 
suing full employment policies. 

The positive labour incentives adopted in the Soviet Union 
have been extraordinarily varied. The Soviet authorities have 
tried at one time or another most of the monetary incentives 
known to the capitalist system. Piece-rates have become the 
rule rather than the exception: the delegation of the Iron and 
Steel Trades Confederation to the Soviet Union in 1945 re- 
ported that all but 5% of the workers in heavy industry were 
on piece-rates, though the proportion was probably not so 
high before the war. There has been a progressive tendency 
to step up wage differentials for the benefit of the more ef- 
ficient and more rapid worker. Fines for bad time-keeping 
have been matched by bonuses and prizes for high output. 
Stakhanovism, apart from its propaganda aspects, meant enor- 
mously increased monetary rewards for the exceptionally ef- 
ficient. The delegates of the Iron and Steel Trades Confedera- 
tion visited a strip mill which, by producing the highest output 
for the year in the Soviet Union, had won not only a banner 
but a bonus of a week's wages for its workers. What is per- 
haps more likely to find imitators in the west is the spread of 
economic incentives of a non-financial kind. The economic 
attraction of a job in the Soviet Union has for a long time past 
been measured not solely, and perhaps not mainly, by the 
monetary rewards, but by the value of the canteen and other 
similar facilities offered by the factory, of -possible privileges 
or priorities in the matter of housing, and of access to closed 
shops. Some of these symptoms are beginning to appear in 
western countries. 



The largest advance has, however, been made fay the Soviet 
Union in the development of non-economic incentives. The 
first issue to be faced here is that of nationalization; for Soviet 
influence has everywhere done much to stimulate the demand 
of the workers for the nationalization of industry. But the 
Soviet example contains a warning as well as an encourage- 
ment. The first concrete application in Soviet Russia of the 
idea of nationalization was to place factories under the control 
of the workers who worked in them. This proved a complete 
fiasco. Factories cannot be run by a committee of workers; 
and the Soviet Government was quickly compelled in the 
interest of efficiency to restore the principle not merely of 
management, but of one-man management. Joint committees 
of workers and management, such as have been popular in 
recent years both in the Soviet Union and in western coun- 
tries, do valuable work in minor questions of organization, 
in handling personal grievances and in the large and impor- 
tant field known as "welfare", but are not, and never can be, 
responsible for major decisions of policy. If nationalization 
has provided a stimulus to output in the Soviet Union, this has 
been due not so much to any additional control obtained by 
the worker over the concern in which he is employed as to 
the sense that all the means of production are now vested not 
in private employers, but in the workers' state which cor- 
porately represents the worker and stands primarily for his 
interests. This Soviet experience is probably valid for the west- 
ern countries. There is no sufficient evidence that the attitude 
of the British miner or the British transport worker to his 
job will change because the particular enterprise in which he 
is employed is nationalized. But it might be radically changed 
by the realization that governmental power as a whole, in- 
cluding the control of industry, was vested in an authority 
representing his class and his interests. 

53 



Apart from the transfer of the means of production to 
public ownership, the Soviet Government has relied on many 
other non-economic incentives to increase the productivity 
of labour. At the outset of the revolution, Lenin believed that 
the publication of adequate statistics would explain to the 
worker "how much work and what kind of work must be 
done" * and that this knowledge would suffice to make him 
do it. While this expectation may seem rather too simple, the 
British authorities discovered during the war the high value, 
as an aid to productivity, of propaganda designed to explain 
to the worker the precise significance and purpose of the 
work on which he was engaged. Soviet theory and Soviet 
practice have steadily discouraged the attitude to work as 
merely something disagreeable un4ertaken perforce in order 
to gain the means of subsistence. This attitude is, in the Soviet 
view, appropriate to capitalism: under socialism work is 
something honourable, even pleasurable a contribution by 
the worker to building up a society of which he is a full 
member. An attempt is made to render industrial work at- 
tractive, both by playing up the romance of the machine and 
by treating it as the symbol of the "advanced" culture to- 
wards which "backward" Russia is striving. Emulation is 
invoked as an incentive, both by the honour paid to individ- 
ual "Stakhanovite" workers and by "socialist competition" 
between rival factories or groups. All this provokes serious 
reflexion in western countries, which will be required in 
conditions of full employment to develop fresh incentives 
for labour; and some of these methods have already been fol- 
lowed there during the war. 

. 

The attitude of the Soviet Union towards labour and to- 
' wards social questions generally cannot be discussed without 

1 Lenin, The Next Tasks of Soviet Power (1918). 

54 



reference to the trade unions. Trade unions, which grew up 
under capitalism to meet specifically capitalist conditions, 
were clearly destined to evolve with the evolution of capital- 
ism, and to undergo a radical transformation when capitalism 
was succeeded by socialism. Hence the experience of the 
Soviet Union is likely to be highly significant for the western 
countries, even though it will not be exactly repeated or 
slavishly imitated there. 

Marx praised the trade unions as "a rampart for the workers 
in their struggle with the capitalists", 1 but had nothing to 
say of their place under socialism. In general, Marxists before 
1917 tended to ignore or play down the future role of trade 
unions, while syndicalists treated them as the main elements 
in the economic, or even the political, structure of the future 
order. This fundamental division emerged immediately after 
the Bolshevik revolution. Nationalization of industry began 
in the form of the taking over of enterprises by workers' com- 
mittees. But this decentralized and potentially syndicalist con- 
ception of the control of industry soon clashed with the de- 
mand for centralized control of the whole national economy 
by the state, i.e. planning. In this collision, the trade unions, 
or at any rate their headquarters organizations, tended to side 
with the state against unruly local leaders a situation which 
has since often reproduced itself elsewhere. Centralization 
won all along the line, partly owing to the inefficiency and 
inadequacy of locally organized workers' control of indus- 
try, partly owing to the impetus given to central planning by 
the onset of civil war. 

The relation between state and trade unions remained, 
however, unsolved; and this became the subject of a con- 
troversy which was at its height in 1920-21 and was not 
finally allayed till the expulsion of Trotsky in 1927. At one 
1 Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy (English trans.), p. 187. 

55 



extreme Trotsky stood for the view that the trade unions had 
no independent functions to perform under socialism, and 
should be taken over lock, stock and barrel by the state; at 
the other extreme Tomsky stood for the completest possible 
independence of the trade unions. The compromise sup- 
ported by Lenin made the best of both worlds. Lenin believed 
that the trade unions, being closer to the masses and less 
tainted by bureaucracy than the official organs of government, 
could serve both as a valuable link between government and 
people and as a good recruiting-ground for public officials. 
The independence of the trade unions was affirmed against 
the Trotskyists who wished to turn them into departments of 
the state. On the other hand, the trade unions could not be 
wholly independent in matters of policy; for were not both 
government and unions subject to the general directives of the 
party? The first Congress of the Red Trade Union Interna- 
tional (Profintern) declared in a resolution that "the idea of 
the independence of the trade union movement must be 
energetically and emphatically rejected". 

The compromise of 1921 tightened rather than relaxed the 
bonds between the unions and the state. The constitution of 
the Ail-Russian Congress of Trade Unions adopted in 1922 
laid it down that the Congress should "draft all legislation for 
the defence of the economic and cultural interests of trade 
unionists and take measures to have these bills passed by the 
competent government departments". Already in 1920 Milyu- 
tin had described the People's Commissariat for Labour as 
"almost completely fused with the trade unions both in its 
work and in the composition of its chief directors". 1 The 
principle was now established that the People's Commissar 
for Labour should be appointed on the nomination of the 
All-Russian Congress of Trade Unions; those who remember 
1 V. P. Milyutin, Istoriya Ekonomicheskogo Razvitiya SSSR, p. 169. 

56 



that a British coalition Government in 1940 appointed as 
Minister of Labour a prominent trade union leader who had 
hitherto played no part in political life and was not even a 
member of Parliament, and that a Labour Government ap- 
pointed to the same office in 1945 the president of the Trade 
Union Congress, may conclude that the Soviet usage has 
found de facto application elsewhere. In 1933 the Commis- 
sariat of Labour was abolished and its functions handed over 
to the organs of the Ail-Union Congress of Trade Unions. In 
ordinary life it is a matter of some importance whether the 
tiger eats the man or the man the tiger; where the parties to 
the transaction are political institutions, the difference is less 
clearly marked. Some people may have reflected in 1933 that, 
if Trotsky in 1920 had reversed his proposal, the logical re- 
sult at which he aimed might have been achieved with less 
friction and with less delay. The twin functions of controlling 
labour and promoting the interests of labour become so 
closely intertwined that they ultimately merge. 

These issues of the relation of trade unions to the state 
reflect far-reaching developments in trade unionism which 
are beginning to make themselves felt in other countries be- 
sides the Soviet Union. Under capitalism trade unions were 
concerned to secure the enjoyment by the worker whether 
in the form of higher wages, shorter hours or improved mate- 
rial conditions of as large a proportion as possible of the 
product of his labour. Under socialism the worker ex hypoth- 
esi receives the whole product of his labour, less appropriate 
deductions for amortization and for various social or public 
services. In these conditions trade unions which defend the 
worker's interest will no longer need to concern themselves 
in the distribution of the product; the interest of the worker is 
now to increase the size of the product. Hence the chief task 
of the trade unions under socialism is to increase the produc- 

57 



tivity of labour. "The organization of production is the chief 
task of the trade unions in the epoch of the proletarian dic- 
tatorship", wrote Bukharin and Preobrazhensky in their fa- 
mous ABC of Cotmnunism published in 1919 and translated 
into many languages; * and the first All-Russian Congress of 
Trade Unions explicitly decreed: 

The centre of gravity of the work of the trade unions at the 
present moment must be transferred to the sphere of economic 
organization. The trade unions, being class organizations of the 
proletariat built up on the productive principle, must take on 
themselves the chief work for organizing production and restor- 
ing the shattered productive forces of the country. 

The Soviet trade unions throughout their history have re- 
garded the stimulation of production as one of their principal 
functions. Nor is this simply because the history of the Soviet 
Union has been a record of almost continuous national emer- 
gency: it results from the logical position of trade unions 
under socialism. 

The same logic applies to admissibility of strikes under 
socialism. Under capitalism the strike is an expression of class 
conflict: it is used as an economic weapon against private 
employers or as a political weapon against the ruling class. 
Under socialism there are no private employers and the work- 
ers constitute the ruling class, so that strikes become meaning- 
less. It is true that the trade unions represent certain interests 
of the workers and that their interests may clash with others, 
even in a socialist economy. (There is, for example, always the 
question how much of the product of labour should be al- 
located to wages or other amenities of immediate advantage 
to the workers and how much to investment in long-term 
projects.) But such clashes of interest, which are devoid of 

* Bukharin and Preobrazhensky, ABC of Communism, ch. XII, p. 98. 

58 



any class basis, occur in a capitalist economy, e.g. between 
industrialists and farmers; and no one supposes that these 
would be settled by a strike. Just as in Great Britain a dispute 
between, say, the Board of Trade and Ministry of Agricul- 
ture would be settled by a Cabinet decision, so a dispute be- 
tween the Soviet trade unions and some other Soviet organ 
would be settled not by a strike, but by a decision of the 
higher Soviet authorities or conceivably of the party. Strikes 
have not been formally made illegal, but they have, in the 
official view, ceased to have any sense. They would certainly 
not be supported by the trade unions, and would probably 
be treated as a punishable offence, though whether the punish- 
ment would fall on the strikers or on the management against 
which they had struck might depend on the view taken by the 
higher authorities of the case. There does not appear to be 
any record of a strike in the Soviet Union for many years past. 
Some hostile critics have been tempted to regard all this 
argument as make-believe and to suggest that what has really 
happened in the Soviet Union- is that the trade unions have 
been put in their place by a totalitarian regime. But the curious 
thing is that marked symptoms of a similar development have 
appeared in the trade union movements of western Europe 
which, in spite of an anti-Soviet bias, have sometimes paid to 
the Soviet trade unions the sincerest form of flattery. The 
economic reason for this development is clear, and explains 
why it has not yet perceptibly spread to the United States 
or, perhaps, to other oversea countries. Under ipth century 
capitalism output was so constantly expanding that the trade 
unions had only to interest themselves in a fair division of the 
product of labour; the margin on which they could draw was 
so great that they were not called on to worry about the 
size of the product. But this kind of capitalism scarcely exists 
any longer outside the United States; and there too it is al- 

59 



ready threatened. For 20 years or more apprehensions caused 
by the threatened diminution in the size of the cake have 
produced a marked tendency for employers and trade unions 
to join hands in advocating restrictive measures directed 
against the foreigner or against the consumer. Today such 
measures are seen to be inadequate and perhaps in the long 
xun suicidal. In the decaying capitalism of the mid-2 oth cen- 
tury, it has become clear that failure to raise output will be as 
detrimental to the workers as to the capitalists; and what is 
required by the interests of the workers is, paradoxical as it 
may appear to old-fashioned trade unionists, an alliance be- 
tween workers and management to raise output. Even under 
capitalism such an alliance has become necessary. The re- 
port on Post-War Reconstruction approved by the Trades 
Union Congress in September 1944 cautiously admitted that 
the trade union movement was concerned, among other 
things, "with increasing the size of the real national income". 1 
Under socialism, with industries nationalized, this attitude be- 
comes logical as well as necessary. We may not be as far as 
we now appear from a pronouncement by the Trade Union 
Congress on the lines of the resolution of the first Ail-Russian 
Congress of Trade Unions nearly 30 years ago that the chief 
task of the trade unions is to "organize production and restore 
the shattered productive forces of the country". 

Nor perhaps are the western countries as far removed as 
appears at first sight from the Soviet view of the obligation 
to work When labour exchanges were instituted in Great 
Britain in 1909 to cope with unemployment, Sidney Webb 
wrote that one of the advantages of "the public organiza- . 
tion of the labour market by means of labour exchanges" was 
that it "enables the state (as the socialists and trade unionists 
are at one with the rest of the world in demanding) to make it 

1 Post-War Reconstruction: Interim Report (T.U.G 1944) , p. 7. 

60 



more disagreeable for the 'work-shy' "- 1 It is the prospect 
of full employment, not merely as a by-product of war, but 
as a normal condition of peace, which has begun to transform 
the attitude of the trade union movement to this question. "In 
the circumstances in which the threat of the 'sack' no longer 
operates in industry," observes the above quoted report on 
Post-War Reconstruction, "a system of self-discipline which 
is approved by the workers and undertaken by their collec- 
tive organization will be required". 2 A corollary of this de- 
velopment is the changed attitude to strikes. In Great Britain, 
at any rate, it is many years since an important strike was 
sponsored or supported by a responsible trade union. The 
reason is obvious. British trade unions, like Soviet trade unions, 
stand so well with the ruling authorities that they can achieve 
better results by negotiating with them than by fighting 
them. Hence the trade unions draw closer and closer to the 
organs of government and co-operate with authority to re- 
strain their own unruly followers. It may not be as safe in 
Great Britain as it is in the Soviet Union to predict that there 
will be no more major strikes; but it is equally safe in both 
countries to predict that any such strikes would be conducted 
not by the trade unions but against the trade unions. In this 
respect the western world is travelling far more rapidly than 
most people yet realize along the Soviet path. 

1 Cambridge Modern History, XII, p. 765. 

2 Post-War Reconstruction: Interim Report (T.U.C. 1944), p. 23. 



61 



IV 

THE IMPACT ON INTERNATIONAL 
RELATIONS 

THE diplomacy of the ipth century, i.e. the conduct of rela- 
tions with other countries, was a highly specialized trade. 
Such of its activities as were not purely formal or ceremonial 
were political; its principal preoccupation was the balance of 
power in the so-called "concert of Europe". It concerned 
itself with economic matters only in so far as it promoted 
commercial treaties to secure non-discrimination between 
traders of different nations or intervened to prevent discrim- 
ination in practice against traders of its own nation; and it 
did not concern itself with publicity at all. Today the conduct 
of foreign affairs falls into three main sectors with many sub- 
sidiary ramifications politics, economics and finance, and 
publicity. No doubt this enlargement of the sphere of inter- 
national relations has been a natural consequence of the en- 
largement of the sphere of the state; and, though it has for 
the most part occurred since 1917, it would be absurd to 
attribute it to the influence of what has happened in the 
Soviet Union. Nevertheless it is there that the enlargement of 
the functions of the state, with all that that entails, has been 
carried to its furthest point; and analysis will show that the 
Soviet impact on the conduct of international relations, espe- 

62 



cially but not exclusively in the spheres of economics and 
publicity, has been direct and important. 

In international trade and finance, the dominant factor in 
the Soviet Union has been the foreign trade monopoly. It 
was established in 1918, survived without modification 
throughout the NEP period, and has been one of the most 
stable and, so far as the evidence goes, successful of all Soviet 
institutions. The present Commissar for Foreign Trade, 
Mikoyan, has held office continuously since the 1920*5, and 
is generally regarded as one of the most influential of leading 
Soviet officials. The Commissariat conducts the whole foreign 
trade of the Soviet Union, the Soviet trading agencies abroad 
being directly responsible to it. This system presents certain 
obvious advantages; and it is interesting to observe how other 
countries have sought to reap these advantages by indirect 
devices without committing themselves to the full implica- 
tions of a monopoly of foreign trade. 

The monopoly of foreign trade, by eliminating individual 
traders and by making the state the principal in all commercial 
transactions, wipes out the distinction between commercial 
treaties and commercial contracts. It places the organization 
and resources of the state behind every trading transaction. 
In a world where every country had a state monopoly of 
foreign trade, every commercial contract would be an agree- 
ment between states. In a world where only one country has 
such a monopoly, that country enjoys certain tangible ad- 
vantages over its competitors. The most obvious of them is 
that it presents a united front to the world while playing off 
traders of other countries against one another. But there are 
other more important advantages, some of which have been 
referred to in a previous chapter. The monopoly of foreign 
trade makes it possible to take effective account of the real 

63 



interdependence of imports and exports, since the same au- 
thority controls both, whereas the interests of the private 
importer and the private exporter are separate and, at any 
rate in the short run, no kind of conformity need be estab- 
lished between them. The monopoly of foreign trade enables 
the country possessing it both to safeguard vital national in- 
dustries and to foster "infant industries" without resort to the 
clumsy device of the tariff. It makes possible a national cal- 
culation of costs both of exports and of imports to the econ- 
omy as a whole, which may differ widely from a calculation 
of profit and loss made by the particular firm which handles 
them. In brief, it facilitates a comprehensive planning of 
foreign trade, not merely at the moment, but perhaps for 
some years ahead, in terms likely to prove most advantageous 
to the national economy. A subsidiary advantage is that it 
enables national economic policy to be brought into line with 
other aspects of the nation's foreign policy. 

Under the economic stress of the early 1930'$ the western 
world became dimly conscious of these advantages, and at- 
tempts were made to achieve the same results by a series of 
roundabout devices barter agreements, under which state A 
undertakes to purchase so much meat from state B in return 
for the purchase of a corresponding value of coal by state B 
from state A; quota agreements, by which state A agrees to 
take certain proportions of its requirements of a given com- 
modity 'from states B, C and D; and clearing and payment 
agreements under which the parties agree that all payments 
for imports and exports shall be made through a central fund, 
so that the state, while not intervening in particular com- 
mercial transactions, is able to control the sum total of them. 
But these half-hearted devices had two specific drawbacks. 
In the management of foreign trade, as in internal planning, 
the Soviet Union had begun by controlling particular com- 



modities and moved on to global control In the western 
world, the devices in question gave governments a certain 
amount of global control, but deprived them of the possi- 
bility of controlling particular transactions, and thereby ham- 
pered their efficiency. Secondly, these devices had the adventi- 
tious practical drawback of running counter to the canons 
of laissez-faire orthodoxy in international trade in a way in 
which, paradoxically enough, the monopoly of foreign trade 
did not. All these devices could reasonably be held to involve 
formal discrimination by the state between transactions with 
different foreign countries. Where, as under the monopoly 
of foreign trade, the state is direct buyer and seller, the 
charge of discrimination cannot arise; for nobody has ever 
disputed the right of buyer or seller to select his market at 
his own discretion. For this reason the Soviet Union has 
always been able to sign commercial agreements providing for 
non-discrimination without the slightest embarrassment. It 
has been said with some plausibility that the only condition on 
which Great Britain could honour the obligations resulting 
from the Bretton Woods agreement would be the establish- 
ment of a British monopoly of foreign trade. 

The monopoly of foreign trade had important repercus- 
sions on international finance. It enabled the Soviet Union to 
divorce domestic price policy from considerations of world 
prices, or, in other words, to sever all connexion between the 
domestic and the international value of its currency. It was 
some time before the Soviet authorities themselves learned 
this lesson. In 1924, following western precept and example, 
they stabilized their currency in terms of gold on the lines 
of strictest financial orthodoxy, establishing a new monetary 
unit, the chervonetz, for the purpose. But it soon appeared 
that the stability of the chervonetz could not be maintained 
without applying at home the deflationary policies of ortho- 

65 



lox capitalism; and this, even under NEP, would have been 
lore than the regime could bear. In 1926 the import and 
xport of the chervonetz were prohibited; and while the 
xternal value of the chervonetz was maintained at a con- 
rentional level for use in foreign transactions, this no longer 
lad any relation to the purchasing power of the chervonetz as 
letermined by the price level at home. This practice was 
nutated by Germany and by several other European coun- 
ties in the 1930*5. Today it is almost universal. Rates of ex- 
change between national currencies are now everywhere the 
result not of the unimpeded operations of supply and demand 
or of respective price levels in the countries concerned, but 
of decisions of national policy; and everywhere the tendency 
has been to establish sufficient control over foreign trade to 
enable a policy of price-fixing to be maintained at home with- 
out interference from an uncontrolled influx of supplies from 
abroad. 

It may be well, however, to enter a caveat against the idea 
that all the successful practices which became current in 
international trade in the 1930'$ were derived from Soviet 
example. On the contrary, although the Soviet Union was 
the inventor of the monopoly of foreign trade which made 
these practices possible, it was not itself economically strong 
enough to exploit its advantage in the way in which this was 
subsequently done by other countries, notably Germany. An 
instance of this was the failure of the Soviet Union, in spite 
of its trade monopoly, to insulate itself against the conse- 
quences of the world slump of 1930-33. A country can pro- 
tect itself from trade depression elsewhere provided it has 
means to organize its trade as a national unit, and provided 
also that it is a large enough importer to obtain favourable 
terms from those who sell to it and a large enough exporter 
to secure favourable terms from those who need to buy from 

66 



It, and so maintain both the volume and the value of its trade. 
This was one of the ways in which Great Britain, even with- 
out direct state trading, achieved a rapid recovery after 1932 
through the instrumentality of quota, clearing and payments 
agreements. The Soviet Union, even with the full monopoly 
of foreign trade, was not a large enough trader to influence 
conditions and prices on the world market, and what are 
called the terms of trade turned against it: in other words it 
had to pay for reduced imports with larger quantities of 
exports. 

The same economic weakness of the Soviet Union pre- 
vented it from being a pioneer in international economic 
planning, this being not only a logical step from planning for 
the nation to planning for some larger unit, but also a step 
which could have found full support in Soviet ideology. 
Within the Soviet Union planning was one of the most power- 
ful instruments for cutting across national divisions and weld- 
ing the diverse national republics and territories into a single 
economic unit possessing a common loyalty and common 
political consciousness. But in spite of some Utopian dreams 
nourished in the early days of the revolution, the foreign trade 
of the Soviet Union was never sufficiently developed, and 
never occupied a sufficiently large part in the economy of 
any foreign country, to permit of any international policy 
of common economic action and planning under Soviet 
leadership. It was German economic strength which enabled 
Germany in the later 1930'$ to dominate the markets of east- 
ern and south-eastern Europe, mainly by the simple method 
of providing the one available large-scale market for the 
products of these countries. It was German economic strength, 
combined with German military strength, which enabled 
Germany to effect, in the abnormal conditions of war, that 
forced integration of the European economy known as the 



"new order". Beyond doubt the Soviet authorities have stud r 
ied these lessons and hope to be able in future to exploit their 
monopoly of foreign trade more fully, at any rate in central 
and eastern Europe. This hope is apparent in the Soviet com- 
mercial agreements with Roumania and Hungary of 1945, 
which provide for bulk exchange of products between these 
countries and the Soviet Union. 

If this hope is realized, other countries will be compelled to 
set up forms of state trading in order to be able to compete 
with the Soviet foreign trade monopoly. In 1940 Great Britain 
set up a state trading company, the United Kingdom Com- 
mercial Corporation, to push British trade in the Balkan 
countries against all-pervading German competition. The 
German invasion of the Balkans temporarily drove it from 
that field. But during the war the U.K.C.C conducted trading 
operations throughout the Middle East, with the Soviet Union 
and in many other parts of the world where private traders 
could have made no headway; and it created several sub- 
sidiary corporations in foreign countries on much the same 
footing as the Soviet trade organizations abroad. How far its 
function will continue in time of peace is still unsettled. But 
the policy of organized trade for which it stands cannot safely 
be abandoned. Great Britain already has bulk purchase agree- 
ments for specific commodities with some of the Dominions, 
and during the war made similar agreements with other coun- 
tries for war purposes. To take one instance, she will be 
obliged to conclude bulk purchase contracts for Greek prod- 
ucts if Greece is to be kept within the British sphere of in- 
fluence: the omission of any such arrangement was one of the 
weaknesses of the Anglo-Greek economic and financial agree- 
ment of January, 1946. So long as economic action remains a 
major part of foreign policy rand there is nothing to suggest 
any diminution of this tendency the monopoly of foreign 

68 



trade provides the Soviet Union with the most effective 
possible instrument for conducting such action; and other 
countries will be driven more and more insistently to set up 
similar institutions. 

The impact of the Soviet Union on international relations 
in the sphere of economic policy has been less conspicuous 
than in the sphere of propaganda or publicity as it is more 
politely called by those who speak of their own efforts. No 
doubt propaganda in the broad sense of the term is not new. 
Bismarck distorted the Ems telegram in order to exacerbate 
French feeling; the French revolutionaries, and later Napo- 
leon, appealed for sympathy to the rising middle classes 
throughout Europe and incited them to rebel against their 
rulers; an American scholar as recently as 1940 published a 
work on Propaganda in Germany in the Thirty Years' War; 
and even Philip of Macedon is said to have had fifth columns 
in the city states of ancient Greece. But propaganda in the 
contemporary sense of a process organized and carried out 
by officials appointed for the purpose as part of the normal 
conduct of foreign policy is a quite recent phenomenon, 
which owes much to Soviet inspiration and example. 

Like other modern developments in which the Soviet Union 
has played a leading part, the organized use of propaganda in 
international relations was a product of the first world war. 
It was then discovered that propaganda directed to enemy 
soldiers and civilians might help to sap their morale and hasten 
the enemy's defeat. In the later stages of the war, Great Britain 
used it against Germany and, more effectively, against Austria- 
Hungary; Germany used it when she sent Lenin and his 
fellow Bolsheviks into Russia in the sealed train; the Soviet 
leaders used it at Brest-Litovsk and elsewhere in an attempt 
to disintegrate the German armies operating against them. 



What the Soviet leaders did was not to invent a new tech- 
nique, but to systematize and develop it and to realize its 
potentialities as an instrument of foreign policy in time of 
peace. If they did not always attain the objective of winning 
support for Soviet policy, this was certainly not due to any 
imperfections in their use of the instrument. It was rather 
because they were successful enough to inspire in the minds 
of foreign governments so much fear of "Bolshevik propa- 
ganda" that those governments were deterred from collaborat- 
ing whole-heartedly with the Soviet Union even when their 
national interest might have seemed to dictate that course. 

Historically it was the weakness of the Soviet Government 
in other forms of power which impelled them in the early 
days of the regime to develop the new weapon with so much 
vigour. But the development was none the less logical. The 
industrial revolution, which provided the technical facilities 
for large-scale propaganda, notably the popular press, the 
film and the radio, also created the conditions which made its 
use necessary. The importance of propaganda is a symptom 
and product of the new mass civilization. All government rests 
in some degree on the capacity of the ruler or rulers to per- 
suade some body of opinion if only the opinion of a pre- 
torian guard that their rule is desirable. But it is only in 
recent times, and more specifically since the industrial revolu- 
tion, that the masses of the workers have been included among 
those whom it was necessary or useful to persuade; and it is 
only in recent times that science and invention have pkced 
at the disposal of the state the material instruments necessary 
for the persuasion of large masses of people. It was therefore 
appropriate not only that the development of propaganda a< 
an instrument of policy should have marked the culminatior 
of the industrial revolution, but that it should have been car- 
ried to its highest point by the country which has realizec 

70 



most fully the potentialities of mass civilization. The primacy 
of the Soviet Union in the use of propaganda in international 
affairs is largely due to the frank appeal which it makes to 
the masses. The propaganda of other countries still tends to 
be too intellectual in character, and to direct its appeal toa 
exclusively to a select class, to have the same far-reaching ef- 
fects as Soviet propaganda. 

Soviet propaganda enjoys the further advantage of emanat- 
ing from a powerful political unit which claims to be the 
repository of universal truth and the missionary of a universal 
gospel. This was the spirit of the first Soviet broadcast mes- 
sages which were addressed "To All", and purported to be 
equally concerned with the welfare of the workers of every 
country. In March 1919 Lenin created in the shape of the 
Communist International a propaganda organization to 
spread the gospel throughout the world. Alone among the 
principal governments of the world, the Soviet Government 
never possessed a department of its own for international 
propaganda. The universal appeal of Soviet propaganda clearly 
gave it an enormous advantage over the propaganda of coun- 
tries which sought in the main to advertise their own national 
qualities and achievements. The international membership of 
the Communist International made it a more effective instru- 
ment than the national propaganda organizations of other 
countries in as much as Soviet propaganda was partly or 
mainly conducted by citizens of the countries to which it was 
directed; and this advantage was not lost with the dissolution 
of the International in 1943 since its work was carried on in 
the same spirit by national communist parties. In spite of the 
volume of international propaganda to which the Soviet ex- 
ample has given rise, no other nation has been able to emulate 
this characteristic of Soviet propaganda on any considerable 
scale. The international appeal of western democracy petered 



out after 1919. The international appeal of fascism never got 
much beyond a negative attempt to counter communism: its 
characteristic achievement was the futile "anti-Comintern 
pact". The international appeal of communism was in the 
early years one of the main instruments of Soviet foreign 
policy and, in general, of the Soviet impact on the western 
world. Beyond doubt this appeal was subsequently com- 
promised by realization of the extent to which international 
communism has in fact adapted itself to the day-to-day needs 
of Soviet foreign policy. But the Soviet Union has a long 
start in this field. No other country has yet been nearly so 
successful in making international propaganda an integral 
part of its machinery for the conduct of foreign policy. 

The essence of propaganda as an instrument of foreign 
policy is an appeal to potentially influential groups in another 
country in the hope that they will influence the policy of their 
own government. This aim was crudely apparent in such 
manifestations of propaganda as Woodrow Wilson's appeal 
to the Italian people in April 1919 to disown the annexationist 
policy pursued by the Italian delegation in Paris, or in Soviet 
appeals to workers of other countries to resist action unfavour- 
able to the Soviet Union. If the United States spends money 
on propaganda in Great Britain, the purpose is to make British 
opinion pro-American and therefore likely to induce the gov- 
ernment to pursue policies acceptable to the United States; 
if Great Britain conducts propaganda in.France, the object is 
the same. International propaganda is in this sense always an 
interference in another country's affairs; it seeks, through 
-exercising political influence on its recipients, to mould the 
policy and limit the freedom of action of the government of 
the receiving country. But here we come to an important dis- 
crepancy, due to constitutional differences, between the Soviet 
Union and the western world. The Soviet Government, tak- 

7* 



ing the realistic view of propaganda as a weapon which should 
be used by oneself, but the use of which should if possible 
be denied to others, makes every effort to discourage foreign 
propaganda and to exclude it from the Soviet Union; and the 
thoroughness of its administrative control, together with the 
limited number of individual radio sets available, makes this 
task relatively easy. The Soviet Union is therefore ahead of 
the rest of the world both in the conduct of its o\vn propa- 
ganda and in its capacity to nullify the propaganda of other 
countries. It should, however, be noted that this latter advan- 
tage is enjoyed partly in virtue of the material backwardness 
of Soviet civilization and of the isolation of the Soviet Union 
from the rest of the world. Nazi Germany, before and dur- 
ing the war, endeavoured to follow the Soviet example, but 
was far less successful than the Soviet Union in excluding 
foreign propaganda. 

The western democracies have been placed in a somewhat 
embarrassing position by the development of propaganda as 
an instrument of foreign policy. Freedom of opinion is a 
tenet of the democratic creed; and democratic governments 
are inhibited, both for practical and for ideological reasons, 
from seeking to prevent the dissemination of opinion even 
when promoted by a foreign agency. Nevertheless the western 
countries, under the impact of Soviet example, have already 
admitted some reservations to this principle. In 1921 Great 
Britain concluded with Soviet Russia the first international 
agreement in which an attempt was made to restrict propa- 
ganda. In succeeding years such agreements were not uncom- 
mon. One of the latest of them was an agreement of 1938 
between the British and Italian Governments renouncing "any 
attempt by either of them to employ the methods of publicity 
and propaganda at its disposal in order to injure the interests 
of the other". Such agreements were obviously not susceptible 

73 



of precise application, and were never effective. Totalitarian 
countries, even without them, were on the whole in a posi- 
tion to protect themselves against foreign propaganda; demo- 
cratic countries, even where they had weakened their own 
principles by entering into such agreements at all, were in- 
capable of enforcing them. 

A method employed by the British Government with far 
greater success and imitated by many other governments 
was the institution of a press department at the Foreign Of- 
fice which issues regular information and guidance on the 
British point of view to the British press and to such parts of 
the foreign press as are amenable to it. Its services to the 
foreign press may be regarded as part of British propaganda 
to foreign countries. Its services to the home press are more 
significant and less familiar. It easily makes itself indispensable, 
since the Foreign Office has at its disposal a large volume of 
interesting and important news not accessible in any other 
way. Its function of selection gives it an enormous power to 
mould opinion. The mere decision to release or withhold cer- 
tain information, or certain types of information, about 
Ruritania may profoundly affect public emotions about that 
country and radically change the public attitude towards it; 
and the discreet advice which the department sometimes gives 
to play up or to play down points of friction with particular 
countries is scarcely needed. The same carefully selected in- 
formation, and the same guidances and advice, reach the 
B.B.C. through different channels, and are still more effective, 
since the B.B.G lacks even that tradition of independence 
which still clings to some organs of the press. Thus the 
British Government has created an exceedingly adroit and 
subtle instrument which serves not only to promote positive 
propaganda but to counter foreign propaganda, both by di- 
rectly refuting it, and by discrediting the sources from which 

74 



it comes. This development, like other developments of 
propaganda as an instrument of foreign policy, has implica- 
tions which are perhaps not wholly reassuring for democracy; 
for it indicates how easily governments can mould opinion 
on a subject on which the private citizen can have little ex- 
perience and few alternative sources of information. But, 
owing partly to the growth of mass civilization, and partly to 
the stimulus of Soviet example, propaganda has come to stay 
as an instrument of foreign policy; and a nation which organ- 
izes opinion, like the country which organizes its trade and 
finance, will inevitably be at an advantage over a nation which 
still adheres to the self-denying ordinances of laissez-faire. 

It is sometimes argued that it is meaningless to discuss the 
technique of propaganda without discussing the validity of 
the ideas which the propagandist is attempting to convey. 
This does not seem to be wholly true. It would be useless to 
have a perfect system of export and import controls and an 
enlightened currency policy, if the economic resources of the 
country were too slender to sustain them: yet discussion of the 
relative merits of different economic policies is not meaning- 
less. Nevertheless it should be frankly admitted that the suc- 
cess of propaganda probably depends in the long run less on 
the technical skill with which it is conducted than on the 
appeal of the ideas behind it to those to whom it is directed. 
Few people nowadays agree with the simple explanation of 
Pope Pius XI, who in his Encyclical of 1937 Divini Redemp- 
tons attributed the success of communism to "a propaganda 
so truly diabolical that the world has perhaps never witnessed 
its like before". It has already been suggested that the success 
of Soviet propaganda has been largely due both to its appeal 
to the masses and to its international character. If western 
civilization fails to develop ideas which appear equally valid 
in these respects, the advantage will continue to be on the 

75 



side of the Soviet propagandists. The interplay of military 
and economic power is thus complicated by a battle of 
ideologies, waged partly though not exclusively on a basis of 
class, and now being fought out in the Balkans, in the Middle 
East and elsewhere. If it requires more precise definition, it 
can perhaps be defined in terms of the struggle between west- 
ern and Soviet conceptions of democracy discussed in a 
previous chapter. Clearly this issue, as well as issues of power, 
was involved in the diplomatic clashes of the first months of 
1946 between the western Powers and the Soviet Union. 

The influence of the Soviet Union on international relations 
has been most apparent in the new importance now every- 
where attached to international economics and international 
propaganda. Its influence on traditional political and dip- 
lomatic relations has been less tangible and less easily defined, 
but not for this reason negligible. The initial impression is 
somewhat paradoxical. In the first months of the revolution 
there was much talk of the impact of Soviet methods on the 
old diplomacy. Secrecy was denounced; the secret treaties of 
the Tsarist regime were published in a blaze of righteous in- 
dignation; and proclamations by radio largely replaced dip- 
lomatic notes as the chosen Soviet method of addressing other 
countries. But these practices did not survive the first flush of 
revolutionary enthusiasm. They were dictated partly by the 
anomalous position in which the Soviet Government found 
itself, boycotted by the capitalist world and unrecognized by 
any foreign government, partly by the weakness resulting 
from this position which made its international revolutionary 
appeal one of the few assets of the regime. As the Soviet Gov- 
ernment became internationally established and recognized, 
concluded commercial and political treaties with capitalist gov- 
ernments and swung over from world revolution to the pur- 

76 



suit of "socialism in one country", more orthodox methods of 
conducting foreign policy were quickly restored. This did 
not mean that the Soviet Government abandoned its use of 
economic controls and of propaganda as instruments of for- 
eign policy. But in the conduct of ordinary diplomatic rela- 
tions the ultimate effect of the Soviet impact on international 
affairs was not to call for a new diplomacy, but to sound the 
retreat towards something older still. 

How this came about can be easily seen. What passed for 
the new diplomacy in the formative years of Soviet policy 
was Woodrow Wilson's application to international affairs of 
the basic doctrines and assumptions of ipth century liberal 
democracy, of belief in the natural harmony of interest be- 
tween nations, in the impartiality and the efficacy of enlight- 
ened and independent public opinion, and in the settlement of 
disputes by appeal to reason in public debate; and this ideol- 
ogy, of which the League of Nations was the chief exemplar 
and exponent, was freely invoked to discredit the Soviet 
Union. The Soviet leaders therefore had a double reason for 
disliking and distrusting the new Wilsonian diplomacy. In the 
first place, it sprang from bourgeois liberalism, which had 
always been anathema to Marxists and regarded by them as a 
cloak for material class interests; and, secondly, the use to 
which the new diplomacy was put by the capitalist Powers 
seemed all too surely to confirm Marx's diagnosis. Not unnat- 
urally the directors of Soviet policy reacted strongly against 
it, turning away not so much to class warfare, which was now 
recognized as an inadequate guide to the conduct of foreign 
relations, but to older conceptions of interest and power which 
were less familiar, or at any rate, less openly avowed, in the 
zoth century than they had been in the two preceding cen- 
turies. In other words, while the Soviet Government con- 
tinued to indulge on occasion for propaganda purposes in 

77 



idealistic gestures such as Mr. Litvinov's plan for total dis- 
armament, Soviet foreign policy in general tended to be 
couched in more "realistic" terms than those of other Powers 
and thus to promote a reaction towards "realism". 

The view that "ideals" are a cloak for "interests" is Marxist, 
though by no means exclusively Marxist. In some measure it 
is obviously well founded, and nowhere has it probably been 
truer than in the conduct of international relations. Even in 
the i pth century Walewski, the French Foreign Minister, 
had remarked to Bismarck that it was the business of the 
diplomat to cloak the interests of his country in the language 
of universal justice. But in an epoch when statesmen had no 
cause to fear that their confidential diplomatic conversations 
would be reported in the press on the following day, or that 
the text of their diplomatic notes would appear in print in a 
matter of weeks or months, international affairs were con- 
ducted in an atmosphere of greater frankness and realism. 
Those responsible for conducting them were not in essence 
more honest or more sincere than their successors today 
perhaps indeed less so; but they saw less reason to disguise in 
elegant circumlocutions their primary preoccupation with 
national interest. After 1918 the growth of popular concern 
in international affairs, the Wilsonian ideology of enlightened 
public opinion, and the establishment of the League of Na- 
tions made it seem more important than ever, especially in 
the western democracies, to bring foreign policy into line 
with the proclaimed ideals and even with the formal rules of 
the Covenant; and this sometimes entailed a larger measure of 
window-dressing or sheer hypocrisy than had been customary 
in the franker days of i9th century diplomacy. The historian 
of the future will learn far less of the unvarnished truth from 
the diplomatic documents of the past twenty-five years than 
from those of any previous period; the League of Nations in 



particular made fashionable a set of elaborate formulas which 
ingeniously concealed from the unwary the real motives of 
the negotiators. Whatever the other merits or demerits of the 
conduct of international affairs between the two wars, there 
was more humbug about it than probably in any previous pe- 
riod of recorded history. 

This state of affairs lent itself readily to Soviet "debunk- 
ing", which was the more inevitable since the Soviet Union 
was at this time an unprivileged Power excluded from the 
favours of international society. The Soviet propagandists of 
the ipzo's could hardly be blamed if they pointed out that 
British policy in Egypt or United States policy in Nicaragua 
was more concerned with British or American interests re- 
spectively than with self-determination or the rights of small 
nations. No doubt, as the Soviet Union resumed the status of 
a Great Power, it developed an equally ingenuous casuistry 
of its own, such as was required to justify the Soviet-German 
pact of August 1939 while continuing to damn the Munich 
agreement of September 1938. But Soviet casuistry seemed 
less important than its democratic counterpart, partly because 
it convinced fewer people, partly because the men who ac- 
tually conducted foreign policy were themselves less infected 
by it. Soviet negotiators frequently shock the western world 
by the frankness with which they state their demands. This 
does not necessarily mean that these demands are more exor- 
bitant than those of other Great Powers in the past, or perhaps 
even in the present, but that less trouble is taken to veil them 
in the decent garments which modern diplomatic fashions 
require. There is no doubt that it would be far easier to 
negotiate with the Soviet Union in terms of conflicting na- 
tional interests than in terms of ideals in the sincerity of which 
the Soviet negotiators, at any rate, have no belief, and that 
Soviet influence is leading back to a franker avowal of na- 

79 



tional interests as the motive force in international relations 
than was fashionable in the discreeter Wilsonian epoch. 

A greater propensity to question the sincerity of professed 
ideals is accompanied by a keener insistence on the role of 
power in the conduct of foreign policy. The doubtless apocry- 
phal quip attributed to Stalin "Who is the Pope? How many 
divisions has he?" neatly expresses Soviet appreciation of the 
element of power inherent in every international relation or 
transaction. In the period between the wars some such cor- 
rective was certainly required to the current illusion that 
"power politics" had been, or could be, conjured out of exist- 
ence by the wave of a Genevese wand. It was sincerely be- 
lieved at this time in many quarters that public debate was 
an effective way of settling international disputes without 
recourse to the influence of power and, indeed, without re- 
gard to the rival strength of the parties to the dispute. This 
notion was consistently contested by Soviet spokesmen; and, 
after the Soviet Union joined the League of Nations, its main 
efforts at Geneva were directed to putting "teeth" into the 
Covenant. Even today, however, western democratic leaders, 
misled by the misunderstood analogy of their own institutions, 
are far too apt to regard vigour and eloquence in public debate 
as constituting in themselves influential factors in the con- 
duct of international relations. When Palmerston banged the 
despatch box with his fist and made provocative speeches, the 
effect was due not to the weight of the fist or the strength of 
the language, but to the overwhelming preponderance of the 
British navy and to the willingness of the British Government 
to use it. Today the idea apparently still prevails that to bang 
the despatch box with a fist twice as weighty as Palmers- 
ton's and to use language twice as strong will compensate 
for the lack of British preponderance in ships and air squadrons 
and military divisions. This .view is both seductive and danger- 

80 



ous; it encourages the comfortable belief, which played so 
much havoc in British foreign policy between the wars, that 
words can be a substitute for deeds. One healthy effect of 
the assumption of an active role by the Soviet Union in in- 
ternational affairs is an increasing realization of the importance 
of the power factor. 

A corollary of the emphasis on power is an emphasis on the 
difference between great and small nations. Soviet theory 
has always pointed to the unreality, even in domestic politics, 
of "one man, one vote", so long as this formal equality is 
nullified by a real inequality of social and economic status. 
This unreality is a thousand times more conspicuous in a 
system based on a formal equality of nations, or on the prin- 
ciple "one nation, one vote". The issue at stake is not equality 
before the law, but equality in the determination of those 
questions of conflicting interests and rivalries for power 
which, in international as in domestic affairs, are a matter for 
political, not legal, decision. Soviet influence has consistently 
supported the view that there can be no political equality be- 
tween great and small Powers, and that a system based on 
the pretence of an equality which does not exist is necessarily 
a sham. This does not, of course, mean that there are two hard 
and fast categories of great and small, or that there are any 
rigid lines of demarcation at all, but that in all international 
issues of a political character power acts as a differentiating 
factor, and must be recognized as such. 

Such differentiation profoundly affects every problem of 
international organization. Until thirty years ago the distinc- 
tion between great and small Powers was an unchallenged 
assumption of international politics, the constant rule and 
practice being that only Great Powers took part in major 
international conferences and major political decisions. The 
1 9th century concert of Europe was the perfected form of 

81 



this assumption. As recently as 1918 such early stalwarts of 
the League of Nations as Lord Cecil and Colonel House took 
it for granted that membership of the Council of the League, 
its executive organ, would be confined to the Great Powers; 
and Lord Cecil gave the cogent reason for this view that 
"the smaller Powers w r ould in any case not exercise any con- 
siderable influence". 1 The Soviet negotiators at the Dumbarton 
Oaks and San Francisco conferences consistently sought to 
reserve the prerogative of major international decisions to the 
Great Powers, and resisted, though not always successfully, 
every concession designed to give the smaller nations an ef- 
fective voice in political issues. The famous veto of the Great 
Powers on decisions of the Security Council is almost the last 
stronghold in the Charter of the United Nations of the 
predominant position of the Great Powers. In the same spirit 
the Soviet Government long struggled to maintain the ex- 
clusiveness of the "Big Three", since these are the only na- 
tions with sufficient resources to make their power effective 
in any part of the world. To admit China and France to par- 
ticipate in the discussion of the affairs of regions (say, the 
Balkans) where neither has any potential power at all was, 
on the Soviet view, irrelevant and illogical. 

The aim of recent Soviet policy in the field of interna- 
tional organization has thus been in effect to return as far as 
possible to the principles of the concert of Europe, now ex- 
tended to cover the world. The return to the past is, however, 
in part fallacious. The smaller nations can no longer remain, 
as they remained in the ipth century, neutral and remote 
from the decisive currents of international affairs. Sooner or 
later they will be drawn into the orbit of one or other of the 
Great Powers, so that the prospect which apparently con- 
fronts us is that of two, three or more constellations of power, 

1 Miller, The Drafting of the Covenant, n, p. 61. 

82 



each of them having one Great Power as its nucleus. This is 
clearly the trend not only of Soviet policy throughout eastern 
Europe and northern Asia, but also of American policy which 
is seeking a consolidation of power all over the western 
hemisphere and reaching out across the Pacific to Asia and 
perhaps even to certain isolated points across the Atlantic. 
The choice before Great Britain is either to become the 
nucleus of a constellation of power embracing the British 
Empire and Commonwealth and extending to western Europe, 
or else to merge herself in one of the other great constella- 
tions. Such is the dilemma imposed by the political impact of 
the Soviet Union and by the economic and financial imperial- 
ism of the United States. 

Nothing in all this implies the view that power in interna- 
tional affairs has purely material sources. The Soviet leaders 
in the early days were the first to proclaim the appeal of the 
revolutionary idea as the source of their strength; and more 
recently they have freely invoked the idea of the defence of 
the socialist fatherland as a force capable of sustaining military 
power. But, in admitting this conception, they would make 
two reservations. The idea must be associated with, or em- 
bodied in, effective power; and the idea itself must not be a 
mere abstraction, but must take a concrete and material form. 
In other words, Soviet theory, in proclaiming the power of 
the idea, postulates a particular kind of ideology. This will 
be discussed in the next chapter. 



THE IDEOLOGICAL IMPACT 

BOLSHEVISM is no mere political programme, but a philosophy 
and a creed. Never since the mediaeval church evolved a 
complete set of rules for human conduct and thought and 
harnessed to it the temporal power of the emperor, had so 
bold an attempt been made to establish a comprehensive and 
coherent body of doctrine covering the whole of man's social, 
economic, political and intellectual activities and providing 
the ideological basis for a system of government. The "ideas 
of 1789" had been, by comparison, limited in scope and fluid 
in outline if only because they lacked an authoritative organ 
to expound and interpret them. Lenin from the very outset 
emphasized the importance of the party as the custodian of 
doctrine and of an orthodoxy maintained by rigid discipline; 
and the system which emerged from the revolution of 1917 
established the supremacy of the party, as the repository of 
orthodoxy, over the state power. This reversed the situation 
existing in Tsarist Russia and, logically, in any country pos- 
sessing an established church where the state power was 
supreme, and the body claiming to be the source or exponent 
of doctrine was subject to the control of the state. Bolshevism 
has the status of a creed which purports to inspire every act 
of state power and by which every such act can be tested and 

84 



judged. Naked and uncontrolled power for the state is no 
part of Bolshevik doctrine. Bolshevism has shown a remarkable 
capacity to inspire loyalty and self-sacrifice in its adherents; 
and this success is beyond doubt due in part to its bold claim 
parallel to the claim of the Catholic church in countries 
where it is paramount to be the source of principles bind- 
ing for every form of human activity including the activity 
of the state. 

The mere existence in eastern Europe of a new political 
order based on a consistent and coherent creed capable of 
generating this devotion and enthusiasm has had an immense 
impact on the western world. Even those or perhaps par- 
ticularly those who have rejected most vigorously the con- 
tent of the creed have been conscious of its power of attrac- 
tion and of the weakness of a political order lacking the 
same basis of passionate conviction. This feeling had much 
to do with the beginnings of fascism and nazism, which pro- 
ceeded from a conscious reaction against Bolshevism, but 
also from a scarcely less conscious imitation of it. The moral 
fervour which Mussolini and Hitler sought to inspire among 
their followers was a kind of spurious antidote to the fervour 
of Bolshevism, and many of the methods of Bolshevism were 
invoked in the attempt to generate it. The impact of this 
aspect of Bolshevism was felt, however, even in the democratic 
countries. Democracy everywhere suffered a set-back after 
the triumph of 1918. This set-back seemed to many the result, 
not of objective conditions, but of waning enthusiasm; and 
this was largely due to a feeling that democracy no longer 
possessed the moral drive, the consistent outlook, the youthful 
vigour of Bolshevism. In the Britain of the nineteen-thirties, 
the recall to religion, the demand for a deeper sense of pur- 
pose, the appeal of Marxism to young intellectuals and pseudo- 
intellectuals, the belief, irrational and unsupported by knowl- 

85 



edge, in the "Soviet paradise", were all in their different ways 
significant symptoms of this feeling. 

Bolshevism, like Christianity or like any other doctrine 
which has made a powerful impact on the world, has two 
aspects: the destructive or revolutionary, and the constructive 
or positive. Broadly speaking the tendency in any great move- 
ment is for the revolutionary aspect to predominate in the 
earlier stages, the positive aspect in the later. Primitive Chris- 
tianity was revolutionary until it had disrupted the old Roman 
civilization; then it created a new and positive world order 
of its own, and underwent a corresponding modification of 
its outlook. The Reformation began by being revolutionary 
and destructive, and ended by becoming the basis of a new 
social order. Bolshevism has passed, or is passing, through the 
same two phases; and both have had their impact on the west- 
ern world. The revolutionary element of Marxist ideology 
may be considered under three heads its materialism, its 
<lialectical character, and its relativism. 

Materialism, though its metaphysical implications are politi- 
cally neutral, has been associated in modern times with the 
tradition of revolution. Materialism, combined with the ab- 
solute or static rationalism of the i8th century, was the 
philosophy of the French revolution. Materialism, combined 
with the dialectical and relativist rationalism of Hegel, gave 
birth to Marxism which provided the philosophical back- 
ground of the Russian revolution. Revolutionary materialism 
was a revolt both against Christianity and against a metaphysi- 
cal idealism which believed in spiritual values and pure ideas 
as the ultimate reality behind the material universe. Trans- 
lated into political terms, it attacked the privileged classes by 
alleging that their preoccupation with men's souls masked a 
convenient and profitable neglect of the needs of men's bodies 
when the men concerned belonged to the unprivileged 

86 



class. Hence Marxism taught that the ultimate reality was 
material and, above all, economic. 

Men make their own history [wrote Engels, summarizing the 
doctrine in the last year of his life], but in a given environment 
in which they live, upon the foundation of extant relations. 
Among these relations, economic relations, however great may 
be the influence exercised on them by other relations of a political 
and ideological order, are those whose action is ultimately deci- 
sive, forming a red thread which runs through all the other rela- 
tions and enables us to understand them. 

No one can doubt the enormously increased popularity and 
influence of such conceptions in the modern world. To im- 
prove the material standards of living of the masses is today 
a mission commanding the same kind of moral fervour as 
formerly went into the task of winning their souls. We have 
travelled far from primitive Christian conceptions of the 
wickedness of the material world and of the importance of 
avoiding and resisting its temptations. The social functions of 
the church have received a new and revolutionary emphasis. 
The kind of theology popular in the i9th century which 
promised rewards hereafter as compensation for the sufferings 
of this world what came to be derisively dubbed "pie in the 
sky" fell into disrepute. Modern churchmen have been 
known to argue that the cure of men's souls cannot be suc- 
cessfully undertaken in isolation from the cure of their bodies; 
and a well-known free church weekly describes itself as a 
"Journal of Social and Christian Progress". In the academic 
sphere the immense expansion of economic studies in the last 
thirty years, and the corresponding decline of philosophy and 
the humanities, are minor signs of the times. Whether the 
result be attributed to the impact of Marxism, or of the Soviet 
Union, or to the rising political consciousness of the unprivi- 
leged class, or merely to the increasing stringency of material 



conditions, greater prominence is given in contemporary life 
and thought than ever before to the economic foundations of 
the social order. 

The Marxist philosophy was not only materialistic, but 
dialectical. This character it derived from Hegel's dialectical 
idealism. According to this doctrine the world moves forward 
through a continuous interplay and conflict of ideas; one idea, 
or thesis, is contradicted and assailed by its antithesis, and out 
of this struggle comes not the victory either of thesis or of 
antithesis, but a new synthesis; the synthesis is thus established 
as a thesis, and the process of contradiction begins once more. 
This state of flux, or historical process, is the ultimate reality: 
it is also rational, since it is moving forward along certain 
lines which can be determined by rational investigation. This 
was what Hegel called the dialectic, and Marx, in substituting 
the conflict of classes and their material interest for the 
Hegelian conflict of ideas, preserved the rest of the Hegelian 
structure intact. Indeed the principles of conflict and flux 
occupy in the Marxist system a more central place than the 
materialism. Whether directly from Hegel, or through Marx, 
or through other channels, the dialectical conception has 
deeply penetrated western thought since the latter part of 
the i pth century. Among its symptoms are the belief in 
perpetual conflict substituted for the belief in a natural 
harmony of interests; the recognition that social phenomena 
are not static, but dynamic, and must be studied not as fixed 
states, but as processes; and the emphasis on history as the 
key to reality. In the 1 8th century, philosophy took over from 
religion the function of explaining the nature of reality. In the 
1 9th century this role was passed on from philosophy to 
history. 

Belief in the historical process, in never-ceasing flux, as the 
ultimate reality should logically preclude belief in any ab- 

88 



solute outside it. The course of history being predetermined 
by laws of its own is an absolute in its own right, and all that 
man has to do is to conform to those laws and to help to 
fulfil them. Hegel, the real inventor of what came to be 
known to German philosophers as Historisnms, preached that 
freedom consisted in the recognition and voluntary accept- 
ance of necessity. This form of historical determinism is the 
basis of what may be called the "scientific" side of Marx's 
teaching: the contradictions of capitalism made socialism 
demonstrably inevitable. "When Marxists organize the com- 
munist party and lead it into battle", wrote Bukharin, "this 
action is also an expression of historical necessity which finds 
its form precisely through the will and the actions of men." 1 
It has sometimes been suggested that to portray history as a 
chain of events developing one out of the other by an 
inevitable process is to deprive human beings of all incentive 
to action. This is good logic but poor psychology. Men like 
to work for a cause which they think certain to win; con- 
versely, there is no surer way of sapping an adversary's morale 
than to persuade him that he is bound to lose. Marxism has 
derived an enormous accretion of strength from the belief that 
the realization of its predictions is historically inevitable. To 
have history on one's side is the modern equivalent of being 
on the side of the angels. 

This belief in history is a fundamental tenet of Bolshevism. 
Both Lenin and Trotsky frequently personified not to say, 
deified history. "History will not forgive us", wrote Lenin 
on the eve of the Bolshevik revolution, "if we do not seize 
power now." What is right is to assist the historical process 
to develop along its predestined lines: what is wrong is to 
oppose or impede that process. The victory of the proletariat, 
being scientifically inevitable, is also morally right. The 

*N. Bukharin, Historical Materialism (English trans.), p. 51. 

8 9 



French revolutionaries had adopted the slogan salus populi 
suprema lex; Plekhanov, the Russian Marxist, was logical and 
consistent when he translated this into salus revolutiae [sic] 
suprevm lex. 1 The revolution was the fulfilment of the his- 
torical process: everything that aided history to fulfil itself 
was right. Ethics could have no other basis and no other mean- 
ing. Like other totalitarian philosophies and religions, Bol- 
shevism inevitably tends to justify the means by the end. If 
the end is absolute, nothing that serves that end can be morally 
condemned. 

The emphasis on history leads on to the third revolutionary 
element in Marxism, its relativism. The laws of nature are 
absolute and timeless or were until recently regarded as 
such. The laws of the social sciences are embedded in history 
and conditioned by it: what is true of one period is obviously 
not true of another. There is no such thing as democracy in 
the abstract: the nature of democracy depends on the histori- 
cal development of the society in which it is established, and 
the application of the same formal rules will yield different 
results in different social environments. No laws of economics 
are universally true without regard to time or place. There are 
classical economics based on the broad pre-suppositions of 
laissez-faire, the economics of "imperfect competition" or 
monopoly capitalism, and the economics of socialism or the 
planned society; and different principles will apply to each. 
Conceptions like "freedom" and "justice" remain abstract and 
formal until we are able to place them in a concrete historical 
setting, and bring them to earth by answering the questions 
"freedom for whom, and from what" or "justice for whom 
and at whose expense". Not only every social or political 
institution, but every social and political idea changes with 
the historical context, or, more specifically, with changes in 

* G. V. Plekhanov, Works, XII (in Russian), pp. 418-19. 

9 



the relations of productive forces. Reality is never static; 
everything is relative to a given stage in the historical process. 
This thorough-going relativism is ideologically the most 
destructive weapon in the Marxist armoury. It can be used to 
dissolve all the absolute ideas on which the existing order 
seeks to base its moral superiority. Law is not law in the ab- 
stract, but a set of concrete rules enacted by an economically 
dominant class for the maintenance of its privileges and au- 
thority. Bourgeois law is largely concerned with the protec- 
tion of the property rights of the bourgeoisie: "law and 
order", though good things in the abstract, become a tradi- 
tional slogan by which those in possession seek to discredit 
strikers, revolutionaries and other rebels against the existing 
social order, however oppressive that order may be. Equality 
in the abstract is purely formal. "One man, one vote" does 
not ensure actual equality in a society where one voter may 
be a millionaire and another a pauper; even equality before 
the law may be a mockery when the law is framed and ad- 
ministered by the members of a privileged class. Freedom it- 
self can be equally formal. Freedom to choose or refuse a 
job is unreal if freedom to refuse is merely tantamount to 
freedom to starve. Freedom of opinion is nullified if social 
or professional pressures render the holding of some opinions 
lucrative and expose the holders of other opinions to an eco- 
nomic boycott. Freedom of the press and of public meeting 
are illusory if the principal organs of the press and the prin- 
cipal meeting-places are, as is inevitable in capitalist society, 
controlled by the moneyed class. Thus the supposed absolute 
values of liberal democracy are undermined by the corrosive 
power of the Marxist critique: what was thought of as ab- 
solute turns out to be relative to a given social structure and 
to possess validity only as an adjunct to that structure. These 
views have made enormous headway in the last 25 years. To 

9 1 



discuss history in constitutional terms, or in terms of a strug- 
gle for liberty, democracy or some other abstract ideal, is 
today almost as old-fashioned as to discuss it in terms of kings 
and battles. Under the impact of Marxism the study of his- 
tory has everywhere been placed on sociological foundations. 
If the 1 8th century rationalists substituted philosophy for 
religion, and Hegel substituted history for philosophy, Marx 
carried the process one stage further by substituting sociology 
for history. 

But the inroads of relativism go deeper still. If the institu- 
tional pattern of society and the ideals which animate it are 
conditioned by the material or specifically by the economic 
foundations on which the society rests, so also are the 
thought and action of its individual members. Marxism finally 
deprived the individual of his individuality and made him, first 
and foremost, the member of a class. What the individual 
bourgeois thought and believed and did was not or at any 
rate not merely the product of his own thinking and voli- 
tion, but of the conditions imposed on him by his membership 
of the bourgeoisie. Relativism thus becomes the vehicle of a 
complete scepticism. It is the culmination or, perhaps, the 
reductio ad absurdum of the great movement of human 
thought initiated by Descartes, who made the thinking indi- 
vidual the fixed starting point of his system: cogito ergo sum. 
The achievement of the Enlightenment is thus brought to 
nought. "Dare to be wise! Dare to use your own intelligence! 
That is the motto of the Enlightenment." * But now human 
reason, having challenged and destroyed all other values, ends 
by turning the same weapons against itself. Individualism, hav- 
ing challenged and destroyed the authority of other sources 
of value and set up the individual judgment as the ultimate 
source, carries the argument to its logical conclusion and 

i-Kant, Werke (eel. Cassirer), IV, p. 169. 

92 



proves that this source also is tainted. The process of debunk- 
ing is pursued to the point where the debunker is himself 
debunked. The reason of the individual can have no independ- 
ent validity. His thinking is conditioned by his social situation, 
and that situation is in turn determined by the stage reached 
in the historical process. 

This weapon can be wielded with devastating force, . If 
pressed home, it would lead to a rejection of all absolute truth 
or at any rate of all human capacity to know it. Nothing 
would be true except in relation to a particular situation or a 
particular purpose, and nothing could be known except from 
an angle of approach which inevitably makes all knowledge 
purely subjective. Marxist and Soviet criticism has, however, 
not been concerned to pursue the matter to this extreme and 
logical conclusion, but rather to use relativism as a weapon to 
discredit and dissolve the theories and values of bourgeois 
civilization. The sting of the theory of "conditioned think- 
ing" is that it is so largely true. Obviously few individuals in 
fact think for themselves; obviously, too, their thinking is in 
large measure unconsciously conditioned by their social and 
national background and by their desire to find justification 
in theory for the practice which the pursuit of their interests 
demands. It requires no great skill to demonstrate that the 
political and economic theories which have been fashionable 
at different periods of history and in different countries re- 
flect the views and the interests of the dominant group at the 
time and place in question. "Intellectual production", as the 
Coimmmist Manifesto brutally puts it, "changes with material 
production"; and "the ruling ideas of any particular age have 
always been merely the ideas of its ruling class". Perhaps the 
extreme self-confidence and self-satisfaction characteristic of 
the period of bourgeois supremacy, especially in the English- 
speaking world, made it peculiarly vulnerable to attack. More 

93 



certainly, the decline in that supremacy, and the challenge 
presented to it by the first world war and by its consequences, 
of which the Bolshevik revolution was the most significant, 
spread the impression that there were hitherto undetected 
chinks in the armour of bourgeois theory. There can be no 
doubt that the Marxist critique, and the weapon of relativism 
which it released, was a powerful factor in that wave of gen- 
eral debunking of bourgeois values which reached its climax 
between the two world wars. Few intelligent democrats to- 
day deny the validity of some aspects of the Marxist onslaught. 
The impact of the Soviet Union in the last twenty-five years 
has helped to drive it home; and Soviet prestige has in turn 
been increased by the recognition of its validity. 

This then is the essence of the revolutionary or destruc- 
tive impact of Marxism on the western world. A true revolu- 
tion is never content merely to expose the abuses of the 
existing order, the cases in which its practice falls short of its 
precept, but attacks at their root the values on which the 
moral authority of the existing order is based. Thus Chris- 
tianity was not so much concerned to denounce the cruelties 
or injustices of Roman rule as to challenge the principle of 
authority represented by it. The Reformation did not merely 
denounce ecclesiastical abuses and misdeeds; it attacked the 
principle which found the ultimate source of authority in a 
visible church and its head. The French revolution was not 
content to arraign individual kings and ministers as wicked; 
it struck at the principle of royal sovereignty. The gravamen 
of the Marxist revolution is not that it has exposed the failures 
and shortcomings of western democracy, but that it has called 
in question the moral authority of the ideals and principles 
of western democracy by declaring them to be a reflexion of 
the interests of a privileged class. The serious thing about the 
contemporary revolution is not that Marxism has kindled and 

94 



inflamed the resentments of the under-privileged against the 
existing order and helped to make them articulate: the serious 
thing is that it has undermined the self-confidence of the 
privileged by sapping their own faith in the sincerity and 
efficacy of the principles on which their moral authority 
rested. 

All this is the negative or destructive side of the impact of 
the Marxist and Soviet ideologies on the western world. Such 
criticism successfully undermines the adversary's position, but 
does nothing to establish one's own. Indeed consistent rela- 
tivism, by attacking every absolute, renders any position un- 
tenable. It is true that some ipth century thinkers, following 
the impulsive example of Proudhon, who wrote "I deny all 
absolutes, I believe in progress", attempted to make progress 
itself their absolute. Moreover this attempt drew a certain 
scientific colouring from some of the cruder interpretations of 
Darwinian evolution. But progress itself is meaningless in the 
absence of some absolute standard there is nothing to dis- 
tinguish progress from regression; and most i9th century be- 
lievers in progress consciously or unconsciously postulated 
Tennyson's "far-off divine event, to which the whole crea- 
tion moves". Marx, for all his belief in the historical process 
and in the scientific quality of his predictions, made no pre- 
tence of being neutral. He had a robust constitution which 
indulged freely in the luxury of moral judgments. Though the 
thoughts and actions of individuals were conditioned by their 
social situation, he was fully prepared to censure or praise 
them on what were in all seeming moral grounds. Though 
the victory of the proletariat was scientifically inevitable, 
Marx implicitly encouraged men to work for it on the ground 
that it was morally right. The moral undertones, which are 
never far beneath the surface in Marx, became overtones in 

95 



the current Soviet ideology. The change is significant for the 
evolution of Bolshevism from a destructive and revolutionary 
force into a positive and constructive force. The charge of 
inconsistency, of a departure from original Marxist orthodoxy, 
is paralleled in the history of all revolutions which "settle 
down" and become the basis of a new social order. Every 
established social order needs its absolutes. 

The absolute value which Marxist and Soviet ideology have 
to offer and to which all else is subordinated is the emancipa- 
tion of the proletariat, the establishment of its supremacy at 
the expense of other classes and the ultimate attainment of 
classless society. The word "proletarian" by its derivation 
means no more than the unclassed, the under-privileged or 
the underdog, in whose name all revolutions are made. But 
it was a stroke of insight which enabled Marx to perceive 
that the industrial worker, the "wage-slave", was the charac- 
teristic "proletarian" of the industrial age, and must be the 
bearer and the eponymous hero of the next revolution. Just 
as Hegel abandoned relativism in order to find an absolute in 
the Prussian nation, so Marx abandoned relativism in order, 
with better reason, to find his absolute in the proletariat. At 
the very outset of his career, in 1843, Marx had written that 
"there is only one class whose wrongs are not specific but are 
those of the whole society the proletariat". 1 In the Com- 
munist Manifesto he implicitly answers the charge that, in 
becoming the champion of the proletariat, he was merely sup- 
porting the cause of one class against another: 

All previous movements were movements of minorities or in 
the interest of minorities. The proletarian movement is the con- 
scious movement of the immense majority in the interest of the 
immense majority. 

1 Quoted in I. Berlin, Karl Marx, p. 87. 

96 



The victory of the proletariat, he explained elsewhere in the 
Manifesto, meant not the domination of the proletariat as a 
class but the end of all class antagonism and the introduction 
of the classless society. On the tenth anniversary of the 
Bolshevik revolution Stalin proclaimed the same doctrine: 

A revolution in the past generally ended by the replacement at 
the seat of administration of one group of exploiters by another 
group of exploiters. The exploiters were changed, the exploita- 
tion remained. So it was at the time of the movement for the 
liberation of the slaves. So it was at the period of the peasant 
risings. So it was in the period of the well-known "great" revolu- 
tions in England, in France, in Germany. . . . The October rev- 
olution is different in principle from these revolutions. It sets 
as its goal not the replacement of one form of exploitation by 
another form of exploitation, of one group of exploiters by an- 
other group of exploiters, but the annihilation of every form of 
exploitation of man by man, the annihilation of ever} 7 - kind of 
exploiting group, the establishment of the dictatorship of the 
proletariat, the establishment of the power of the most revolu- 
tionary class of all the hitherto existing oppressed classes, and the 
organization of a new classless socialist society. This is why the 
victory of the October revolution means a radical break in the 
history of mankind. 

The contemporary western ideology of the "common man" 
doubtless has traditional roots in Christianity and in other 
revolutionary movements of the past. But it owes its revival 
and current popularity largely to the impact of Marxism and 
of the Soviet Union. This is the positive side of the bad con- 
science generated by the Marxist critique among the bourgeois 
ruling class of the last hundred years. It is the conscience- 
stricken bourgeoisie itself which has shown most eagerness 
to proclaim "the century of the common man". The "com- 
mon man" has become an absolute in his own right. 
The specific character of the ideal associated with the cult 

97 



of the proletariat or the common man is social or Socialist" 
not using the word in a party sense in two connotations. 
It is primarily social as opposed to primarily political in its 
aims; and it is primarily social as opposed to primarily indi- 
vidual in its values. 

In the first place, then, the Bolshevik revolution is primarily 
social where the French revolution was primarily political 
Its concept of social justice is not exhausted by the political 
ideals of liberty and equality. Of the three ideals of the 
French revolution, liberty has been tarnished by the discovery 
that, in default of equality, it remains the privilege of the 
few; equality by the discovery that, unless it remains purely 
formal, it can only be achieved through the sacrifice of lib- 
erty; and fraternity alone remains, perhaps because little at- 
tempt has hitherto been made to give it concrete form. It 
has been said with more than a grain of truth that the specific 
ideal of the proletarian revolution is neither liberty nor equal- 
ity but fraternity. The universality of the Bolshevik appeal, 
its claim to speak in the name of oppressed groups and classes, 
both national groups and exploited classes, all over the world, 
has been a large element in its strength. Even where there 
has been a retreat in Soviet policy and in Soviet ideology from 
the unbridled internationalism of the first revolutionary years, 
the retreat has not been into nationalism of the old-fashioned 
kind. Soviet nationalism has always claimed to be something 
different on the ground that it is built up on the brotherhood 
of the many nations and races composing the Soviet Union. 

The strength of Soviet patriotism [said Stalin in one of his 
war-time speeches] lies in the fact that it is based not on racial 
or nationalist prejudices but ... on the fraternal partnership of 
the working people of all the nations of our country. 1 

1 Speech of November 6, 1944. 



It is not wholly unfair to contrast this new Soviet ideology 
with the kind of nationalism which, in the western world, 
has almost always meant the supremacy of a certain national 
group or groups. It would be difficult to deny that the social 
and political ideals of the English-speaking world rested until 
recently, and in some measure still rest, on the unspoken as- 
sumption of the superior right of the white man in general, 
and even of certain sections of the white race in particular. 
This assumption, which reflects the privileges won by Eng- 
lish-speaking countries and a few closely allied nations in the 
prosperous days of bourgeois civilization, is reflected in all 
the relations of the English-speaking world with the "coloured 
peoples" and renders those relations peculiarly vulnerable to 
the Soviet attack. The English-speaking countries have per- 
haps not been sufficiently sensitive to the threat to their 
world-wide position implicit in the Soviet appeal to the 
brotherhood of man; in so far as they have recently become 
more sensitive to it and have overcome some of the traditional 
prejudice of race and colour, this is due in large part, directly 
or indirectly, to the impact of the Soviet Union. 

The second and more significant effect of the impact of the 
Bolshevik ideology has been to hasten the disappearance of 
the individualist values of bourgeois society and the substitu- 
tion for them of the social values of mass civilization. The age 
of bourgeois capitalism emancipated the individual from his 
predetermined place in the social and economic order, re- 
placed status by contract, and left the individual free to choose 
his calling and to rely on his own judgment and his own 
efforts. The bourgeois order brought prosperity and privilege 
to the capable and enterprising few. Individualism really 
meant the claim of outstanding individuals to be different, to 
distinguish themselves by their attainments, and by the enjoy- 
ment of corresponding privileges, from the undifferentiated 

99 



mass of common men. But for the ordinary worker individual 
freedom to choose his job seemed largely illusory when its 
complement was freedom to starve. To have no social obliga- 
tion to work might seem a boon; but it might be purchased at 
too high a price if society in its turn had no obligation to pro- 
vide for the workless. The advantages of individualism per- 
haps never impressed themselves at all deeply on the con- 
sciousness of the masses. At any rate by the end of the ipth 
century the retreat from individualism had begun; the benefits 
of an assured status once more seemed more alluring than the 
combination of a partly fictitious independence with a real 
and intolerable risk. Trade unions, collective bargaining, social 
insurance and the ever-growing volume of social legislation 
were symptoms, or perhaps contributory causes, of the retreat 
from individualism towards the new values of mass civiliza- 
tion. The modern cult of the common man is both broader 
and bolder in its universality than any previous social pro- 
gramme; for it asserts the social rights not of members of a 
select society or group but of individual men and women 
everywhere and without discrimination. 

Yet this is not pure gain. The cult of the proletariat, of the 
common man, by insisting on the equality of social rights 
common to all, has confirmed the emphasis, already implicit 
in modern techniques of production, on similarity and stand- 
ardization. It treats society as a conglomeration of undifferen- 
tiated individuals, just as science treats matter as a conglomera- 
tion of undifferentiated atoms. The social unit displays a 
growing determination to "condition" the individuals com- 
posing it in uniform ways and for uniform purposes and a 
growing ability to make this determination effective. The 
view that the exclusive or primary aim of education is to 
make the individual think for himself is outmoded; few people 
any longer contest the thesis that the child should be educated 
"in" the official ideology of his country. The standardization 

100 



of production makes it necessary for large numbers of indi- 
viduals to spend their working hours doing exactly the same 
thing in exactly the same way. Press and radio ensure that 
they are inoculated with the same ideas or with a few simple 
variants of them; commercial advertising strives to make them 
want the same things to eat, drink and wear, and the same 
amusements to distract them. The individual becomes deper- 
sonalized; the machine and the organization are more and 
more his masters. The contemporary problem of individualism 
in a mass civilization has no precedent anywhere in history. 

All this has often been described and analysed, and is quite 
independent of anything that has happened in Russia in the 
last thirty years. The strong point about the Soviet ideology 
is that it has been framed in response to the new conditions of 
mass civilization, and that it has arisen in a country where the 
sense of community has always been more active than the 
sense of individual rights. It is therefore far more of a piece 
than the confused and conflicting beliefs which arise in the 
west from the attempt to reconcile past and present. The 
trend towards mass civilization seems irresistible and irreversi- 
ble; the alternatives are to accept it or to let contemporary 
civilization perish altogether. But how much of the individual- 
ism of the past can be embodied in the collective forms of the 
present is an unsolved problem. It looks as if the western world 
will have to develop a stronger sense of the duty of the indi- 
vidual to society, and the Soviet Union a stronger sense of the 
obligations of society to the individual. Even in the early 
1920*8 Lenin recognized the impracticability of collective 
management in industry and insisted on a return to one-man 
management and one-man responsibility. In the 1930'$ Stalin 
spoke on several occasions of the dangers of "depersonaliza- 
tion" and of the importance of individual initiative once, 
significantly enough, in a much-quoted speech of 1935 at the 
Red Army Academy at a time when strenuous efforts were 

101 



being made to increase the prestige and efficiency of the of- 
ficer corps. In the previous year in his interview with Air. 
H. G. Wells he had denied the existence of any "irrecon- 
cilable contrast between the individual and the collective, 
between the particular personality and the interest of the 
collective". He went on: 

Socialism does not deny individual interests but reconciles them 
with the interests of the collectivity. . . . The fullest satisfaction 
can be given to these individual interests only by a socialist so- 
ciety. Moreover a socialist society alone presents a solid guarantee 
for the protection of the interests of the individual 1 

These generalizations do not carry us far. But they show 
the Soviet leaders increasingly aware of the problems of mass 
civilization in its relation to the individual. In the western 
world, and particularly in Great Britain, the individualist 
tradition is so strong and ingrained that the phenomena of 
mass civilization are often approached not merely without 
sympathy, but with mistrust and dislike. This does not help; 
and it has still to be proved that individual enterprise and 
individual distinction are necessarily crushed out of existence 
by the far-reaching organization, the external standardization 
and, perhaps, external drabness which go with mass civiliza- 
tion. Certainly the Soviet Union has gone some way to main- 
tain and develop these qualities even within the framework of 
a discipline far more rigid than the western world is likely 
to require or accept. The age-long problem of the place of 
the individual in society and of the relation of society to the 
individual is once more on the agenda; and it will have to be 
worked out in the west, as well as in the Soviet Union, in 
terms of the mass civilization of the contemporary world. 



1 Stalin, Lermtism (loth Russian edition), p. 602. 

102 



VI 
SOME HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES 

THE first millennium of our era saw a constant series of 
migrations from east to west, from Asia to Europe. Then, as 
what are called the Dark Ages passed into the Middle Ages, 
the influx was stayed; and though Russia continued to wrestle 
with the invading Tartar, and the Turk was driving his fangs 
into Europe as late as the iyth century, Europe was no longer 
subject to any large-scale infiltration of men and ideas from 
the east. Then, as the Middle Ages in turn gave place to the 
modern period, a Europe re-invigorated by Renaissance and 
Reformation began to strike outwards; and in three centuries 
the movement of expansion which had its centre in western 
Europe had spread over the greater part of the world. 

Part of this expansion of Europe took the form of a Drang 
nach Osten from western and central Europe into the still 
half -civilized regions of eastern Europe. Among its forerun- 
ners was the advance of the Teutonic Knights (not all of them 
Teuton, or at any rate not all German) along the shores of 
the Baltic; the vast and short-lived Lithuanian Empire reach- 
ing to the Black Sea; and the Polish invasions of Russia in 
the early iyth century. But the effective penetration of Russia 
by the west began with Peter the Great, who conquered the 
Baltic provinces and founded Petersburg, thereby, in the 
famous phrase, "opening a window on Europe"; and through 

103 



this window European influences poured into Russia, shaping 
Russian history for good or evil for more than t\vo hundred 
years. French intellectuals brought to the Russian ruling 
classes the rationalist and cosmopolitan doctrines of the En- 
lightenment; Italian architects left their mark in the palaces 
and mansions of Petersburg and beyond; and British mer- 
chants, who had made their first contacts with Russia as early 
as the 1 6th century, were succeeded by British engineers and 
technicians of all kinds. But by far the most powerful influ- 
ence came from Germany. The dynasty was predominantly 
German in blood; the court was German; the German ruling 
class in the Baltic provinces provided an altogether dispropor- 
tionate share of able generals and administrators; and the 
whole of Russian official life in the ipth century had acquired 
a strong Germanic tinge. Finally in the latter part of the ipth 
century came the economic transformation of Russia by west- 
ern industrial techniques and western capitalist finance a 
process not yet completed in 1914. 

These two hundred years of peaceful infiltration of Europe 
into Russia were punctuated by one dramatic attempt at 
military conquest, dramatically repulsed. Napoleon's failure 
at Moscow had far-reaching consequences in Russian history. 
It gave the signal for the emergence of a Russian national 
political consciousness, such as had hitherto hardly existed, 
comparable with the nationalisms of western Europe; and this 
betokened the beginnings of a reaction against European 
penetration and a resentment of European influence and Eu- 
ropean airs of superiority. Russian ipth century history thus 
bears a dual stamp. It was the period when the impact on 
Russia for the material civilization of western Europe reached 
its height, and Russia became in outward semblance more 
European than at any previous time. It was also the period 
of a conscious and widespread cult of Russian separateness 

104 



from Europe, and of the development of a characteristically 
national and intensely original Russian literature. This duality 
was expressed in the long controversy between "westerners" 
and "Slavophils" which ran through so much of Russian ipth 
century literature and thought. The westerners, representing 
the tradition of European penetration, believed that all that 
was vital and progressive in Russian life came from western 
Europe and that the task of Russian thinkers and Russian 
statesmen was to make up the time-lag vis-a-vis European 
civilization which Russia's belated cultural and economic de- 
velopment had imposed on her. The Slavophils held that 
Russia was the home of a native Slav tradition which stood in 
many respects higher than European civilization and had an 
irreplaceable contribution to make to it. It was the Slavophils 
who developed a "messianic" view of Russia's destiny and 
believed that Moscow, as "the third Rome", would become 
the source of enlightenment and regeneration for a decadent 
Europe. Dostoevsky, who did much to popularize Slavophil 
doctrines, prophesied in a letter of March i, 1868, that within 
a hundred years the whole world would be regenerated by 
Russian thought. 

The same ambivalence which ran through Russian ipth 
century history marked the Bolshevik revolution. In one 
aspect it was a culmination of the westernizing process, in 
another a revolt against European penetration. The first Bol- 
sheviks remained impenitent westerners: for them Russia was 
a backward country to be regenerated by revolutionary doc- 
trines derived from the west. The early Bolsheviks were also 
whole-hearted internationalists who believed that the "work- 
ers had no country" and regarded the Russian revolution 
merely as part of a European or world-wide revolution. But 
when, in the middle 1920'$, the objective of "socialism in one 
country" replaced world revolution, the emphasis gradually 

105 



changed. In the 1950'$ it became fashionable, both in the 
Soviet Union and abroad, to assert the continuity of Russian 
history and the glories of the Russian past; and it was possible 
with a slightly fanciful ingenuity to detect an analogy be- 
tween the ideals of Bolshevism and the messianic conceptions 
of the old Slavophils. Did not both teach that a vigorous and 
unspoiled Russia, in revolt against the decadent civilization of 
the west, was destined to lead the world by the force of its 
ideas along the path of regeneration and progress? From this 
point of view the popular comparison between Peter the Great 
and Stalin is hardly apt. Each inaugurated an epoch Peter 
that of European penetration of Russia, Stalin that of Russian 
penetration of Europe. 

If this view is correct, the Bolshevik revolution must be 
regarded, irrespective of the validity of the doctrines which 
it promulgated, as one of the great turning-points in history. 
Stalingrad and the defeat of Hitler, reproducing on a vaster 
scale the impact on Russian national consciousness of the 
downfall of Napoleon, completed what the Bolshevik revolu- 
tion had begun. The west-east movement of the past 250 years 
has been arrested; the world may well stand on the threshold 
of a renewal of an east-west movement of men and ideas. 
Politics cannot be understood without reference to material 
power; and while numbers are not by themselves decisive, 
power depends among other things on numbers. As Lenin 
once said, "politics begin where the masses are, not where 
there are thousands, but where there are millions, that is 
where serious politics begin"; * and a few statistical pointers 
will help to explain why an arrest of the west-east movement 
in Europe, and the substitution of an east-west movement, was 
foreshadowed in the i9th century and came to pass in the 
zoth. In 1800 the Slavs are believed to have constituted about 

1 Lenin, Selected Works, VII (English trans.), p. 295. 

1 06 



a quarter of the population of Europe; on the eve of the 
second world war they formed nearly a half; by 2000, if 
present trends continue, two-thirds of the population of 
Europe will be Slavs. Of the Slav population of Europe about 
two-thirds are Russians, and this proportion remains fairly 
constant. Rider's campaign of 1941 may be regarded as a last 
desperate fling to maintain the Drang nach Osten against odds 
that were rapidly lengthening. Its ignominious failure opened 
the way for the new Drang nach Westen. 



The east-west movement may take one of two different 
forms direct military and political action, or the peaceful 
penetration of ideas. 

Nothing in the Russian tradition supports a policy of mili- 
tary action in Europe beyond the eastern zone; and the failure 
of Napoleon and Hitler against Russia provides a warning, 
which will not easily be forgotten, against military adventures 
in the converse direction. Western and central Europe pos- 
sesses no important natural resources required by the Soviet 
Union, and contains large industrial populations used to fairly 
high standards of living which the Soviet Union might find it 
difficult to digest, though these considerations do not apply 
to certain regions of Asia which may attract Soviet ambitions. 
In general, the social and economic system of the Soviet 
Union, offering as it does almost unlimited possibilities of 
internal development, is hardly subject to those specific stimuli 
which dictated expansionist policies to capitalist Britain in the 
1 9th century, and may dictate such policies to the capitalist 
United States in the zoth. This is one reason why the 
economic motive has played a smaller part in the foreign 
policy of the Soviet Union than in that of any other leading 
Power. 

It cannot seriously be questioned that security is, and will 

107 



remain for some time to come, the predominant motive of 
Soviet policy in Europe. The bitterness caused by the attacks 
launched on Soviet Russia from the west in the first years of 
the regime has been revived and intensified by the German 
invasion. For twenty-five years the quest for security has 
gone on. It has been pursued by different methods. Down to 
1933, while Soviet power was weak, general disarmament was 
advocated; since about 1934 the people of the Soviet Union 
have been adjured to build up armaments for their own de- 
fence. At some periods, isolation from the internecine wars 
of the capitalist world has been preached; at others, interna- 
tional organization and co-operation with "peace-loving" 
capitalist nations. Since 1939 the occupation of strategic out- 
posts as bulwarks of security a method much practised in 
the past by Great Powers has entered more and more promi- 
nently into Soviet calculations. In eastern Europe this has 
taken the form of seeking to create a broad protective belt of 
friendly states which will be impervious to influences hostile 
to the Soviet Union. The western frontier of this belt coin- 
cides roughly with that of the Slav world; but the inclusion 
in it of Finland and Roumania shows that strategic rather than 
racial considerations are decisive. What concerns the Soviet 
Government, first, foremost and all the time, is that this area 
should be under the control of governments which will pro- 
vide an effective guarantee against the interference in their 
affairs of any other Great Power. The experience of the first 
years of the revolution, when these countries were used as a 
springboard for launching civil war with the backing of the 
western Powers against the Soviet regime, is still vividly 
present in the Russian mind. These regions are for the Soviet 
Union today what the Monroe Doctrine is for the United 
States, the Low Countries for Great Britain, or the Rhine 
frontier for France. But there is nothing in Soviet policy so 

1 08 



far to suggest that the east-west movement is likely to take 
the form of armed aggression or military conquest. 

The peaceful penetration of the western world by ideas 
emanating from the Soviet Union has been, and seems likely 
to remain, a far more important and conspicuous symptom of 
the new east-west movement. Ex Oriente lux. Recent emphasis 
on the continuity of Russian history, which tends to depict 
the revolution of 1917 as a sort of incidental exuberance on 
a broad majestic stream, may lead to one of two erroneous 
conclusions. The first is to treat Bolshevism as a specifically 
Russian phenomenon without significance for western civiliza- 
tion. The second is to treat the influence of Bolshevism on the 
western world as the impact of an alien and unfamiliar eastern 
ideology. Both these views are misleading. Many specific 
events and developments in the Soviet Union bear no doubt 
the peculiar stamp of the Russian past. It is possible to find the 
prototype of the collective farm in the old Russian peasant 
community, the ?mr, or to trace back the Cheka and the 
G.P.U. to the bodyguard of Ivan the Terrible. It can be con- 
vincingly argued that Russia had never developed the strong 
strain of individualism which had entered into western tradi- 
tion with the Renaissance and the Reformation, and was there- 
fore likely to be more receptive to the ideas and practices of 
a mass civilization. But Bolshevism itself has western origins 
and a framework of reference in western thought and life. 
It lies, not less than the French revolution, in the main stream 
of European history and has beyond doubt its relevance and 
its lessons for the western world. 

The contemporary crisis of western civilization is in, per- 
haps, its profoundest aspect, the crisis of the individual. The 
age of individualism now drawing to its close stands in history 
as an oasis between two totalitarianisms the totalitarianism 
of the mediaeval church and empire and the new totalitarian- 

109 



ism of the modern world. If individualism be defined as the 
belief that the individual mind or conscience is the final human 
repository of truth, and that every individual must therefore 
in the last resort make his own judgments, totalitarianism is 
the belief that some organized group or institution, whether 
church or government or party, has a special access to truth 
and therefore the special right and duty of inculcating it on 
members of the society by whatever means are likely to prove 
most effective. For four centuries, from 1500 to 1900, indi- 
vidualism was the main driving force of civilization. The 
TRenaissance had revolted against cultural totalitarianism in 
the name of individual human reason, the Reformation against 
ecclesiastical totalitarianism in the name of the individual hu- 
man conscience. The combination of these two potentially 
discordant elements, the classical and the Christian, stimulated 
and reinforced by the outstanding success of science in ex- 
ploring and controlling man's physical environment, and 
reaching its culmination in the co-called Enlightenment of the 
1 8th century, moulded modern man. Throughout this period 
the cult of the individual and the belief in his power were so 
dominant a factor in the religion, the morality, the politics and 
the economics of the western world that it is still difficult to 
realize its exceptional character. Yet only once before in hu- 
man history in the civilization which was born in 5th cen- 
tury Athens and spread a waning afterglow over the Roman 
world had individual man approached this dizzy faith in 
himself as the centre of the universe. The recovery of this 
faith through the rediscovery of classical antiquity was the 
essence of the Renaissance, and heralded the beginning, of an- 
other great age of human achievement. 

What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how 
infinite in faculty! in form how like an angel! in apprehension 
how like a god! 

110 



For nearly 2,000 years this note had scarcely been heard; from 
the 1 6th to the i9th century it was hardly ever silent. 

At any time before 1900 it would have been superfluous 
to recall the immense achievements of this great and produc- 
tive age the flowering of artistic and literary creation and 
the advance of scientific knowledge under the impulse of the 
new freedom of thought and criticism, the expansion of trade 
and industry and material well-being, and above all the en- 
couragement given by society to restless individual enterprise 
and the sense of individual responsibility. But during the first 
half of the 20th century the tide has turned sharply. The 
contemporary trend away from individualism and towards 
totalitarianism is everywhere unmistakable. Social pressures 
are strongly set towards orthodoxy; conformity is more highly 
prized than eccentricity. The virtues of what used to be 
called "sturdy individualism" are overshadowed by threats of 
"social disintegration". Among the Christian churches those 
that stem from the individualism of the Reformation are in 
decline; the only Christian church which still holds its ground 
is the least individualist and most totalitarian of them all. Of 
modern political philosophies, Marxism is the most consist- 
ently totalitarian and has the widest appeal; the country which 
has officially adopted it and which never shared in the indi- 
vidualist tradition of the rest of Europe has dazzled the 
world by its immense industrial progress, the spirit of its 
people and the rapid development of its power. Two world 
wars, a series of major revolutions, and an economic collapse 
whose severity was mitigated and curtailed only by wholesale 
departures from the old individualist tradition, have sufficed 
to produce a startlingly rapid change of moral climate and to 
convince all but the blind and the incurable that the forces 
of individualism have somehow lost their potency and their 
relevance in the contemporary world. 

in 



Seen therefore in the broadest historical perspective, the 
impact of the Soviet Union on the western world symbolizes 
the end of that period of history which began in the 1 6th and 
1 7th centuries and was marked by the world- wide ascendancy 
of western Europe and, in particular, of the English-speaking 
peoples. Like other great historical movements, the Bolshevik 
revolution was self-assertive and highly dramatic in its setting 
and consequences. But like other great historical movements, 
it owed its success not merely to its own power and to the 
enthusiasm which it generated among its disciples, but to the 
inner crumbling of the order against which it was directed. 
The impact of the Soviet Union has fallen on a western world 
where much of the framework of individualism was already 
in decay, where faith in the self-sufficiency of individual rea- 
son had been sapped by the critique of relativism, where the 
democratic community was in urgent need of reinforcement 
against the forces of disintegration latent in individualism, 
and where the technical conditions of production on the one 
hand, and the social pressures of mass civilization on the other, 
were already imposing far-reaching measures of collective or- 
ganization. The ideas which the Soviet impact brought with 
it thus fell on well-prepared ground; the men of every nation 
who helped to spread communist ideas in the west were not 
as a rule venal "fifth columnists" (though these no doubt ex- 
isted), but men who sincerely saw in those ideas a cure for 
the evils of their own country. Hence, too, the success of 
Soviet propaganda, and the important part which it played in 
the conduct of Soviet foreign policy and in the growth of 
Soviet power. 

How can the western world best meet this challenge pre- 
sented by the Soviet impact? Clearly the element of power is 
present; and in so far as the issue is one of power, it will 
depend on the rival strength, military and economic, of the 

112 



competitors. But this is a shallow, or at any rate an imperfect, 
view of the matter. Much will depend on the attitude of those 
peoples, on the European continent and outside it, who have 
not made a declared choice between western democracy and 
communism, and may prefer forms of government interme- 
diate between them; and this attitude will be mainly deter- 
mined, not by ideological sympathies, but by the economic 
achievements and social programmes of western democracy 
and communism respectively. Much will also depend on the 
extent of the support which the Soviet Union indirectly de- 
rives from those men and women in the western world who, 
diagnosing the evils of western society, believe that some of 
the ideas inherent in the Bolshevik revolution are relevant to 
those evils and can be invoked to cure them. The preceding 
pages have been an attempt to enquire how far this belief is 
valid. That it has some validity hardly anyone will any longer 
care to deny; and if this is true, the prospect is probably not 
an out-and-out victory either for the western or for the Soviet 
ideology, but rather an attempt to find a compromise, a half- 
way house, a synthesis between conflicting ways of life. The 
danger for the English-speaking world lies perhaps most of 
all in its relative lack of flexibility and in its tendency to rest 
on the laurels of past achievements. No human institution or 
order of society ever stands still. The fate of the western 
world will turn on its ability to meet the Soviet challenge by 
a successful search for new forms of social and economic 
action in which what is valid in individualist and democratic 
tradition can be applied to the problems of mass civilization. 



Is a realistic study of the Soviet 
system and its influence upon the world. 
Processor Carr accepts the fact that the 
Soviet Union is here to stay, and that it 
exerts enormous power in Europe, both 
physically and ideologically. yA teacher 
and student of international affairs for 
many years, he is eminently fitted to 
estimate Russia's impact on other na- 
tions and to analyze the important prob- 
lems which it poses. 

The activities of the British govern- 
ment during the war and in the post-wax 
period have been influenced by Soviet 
planning methods, Professor Carr shows 
He also indicates how Russian methods 
in foreign trade, propaganda, and othei 
fields have been reflected in 'W'estern na- 
tions, In a brilliant discussion of such 
topics as the "'right to work/' conscrip- 
tion of labor, nationalization, and trade 
unions, he traces the origin and inter- 
play of social and political ideas in 
Europe jffife shows- how many ideas -which 
originate^ in the West were forgotten 
until they returned later in Soviet guis. 

One of the most important parts of 
the book is a timely- analysis of Soviet 
diplomacy. His explanation of -why the 
Soviet Union "acts that way" should be 
as valuable to "Western diplomats respon- 
sible for negotiating with Russia as to 
ordinary citizens seeking light on one of 
the most fundamental problems of the 
day. 

"With his thorough knowledge of con- 
temporary international affairs aad feis- 
remarkable ^gift^for condensation -and 
Professor Carr has made 



a valuable contribution to our understand- 
ing of modern Russia. _ _